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1840-1845 ------ 




GEORGE WAHR, Publisher 

Ann Arbor, Mich. 


A large part of the work for this paper was done 
under the helpful direction of Professor W. E. Dodd at 
the University of Chicago. Through the courtesy of the 
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville 
access was given to its minutes of southern conventions 
and associations, and its files of newspapers. The reason 
for publication is that some valuable material has been 
collected, not that any merit is claimed for its treatment. 

Mary Burniiam Putnam. 

Ypsilanti, ^Michigan. 



SEP ^ \3I3 

Chapter Page 

T. Slavery and the Churches 7-11 

Anti-slavery demands on the churches .... 7 

Pro-slavery attitude 9 

Attempts at neutrality 11 

11. The Baptists and Slavery Before 1840. . .12-20 

Early attitude on slavery, 1789 12 

Southern position, 1833 13 

Northern Anti-Slavery Baptists 15 

Northern Conservatives 16 

Wayland's Views. 

Baptist National Organizations 19 


III. The Controversy, 1840-1843 21-33 

American Baptist Anti-Slavery Convention. 21 

Address of the "Board of Managers" 21 

Maine x\nti-Slavery Convention 23 

Circular of the Executive Cornmittee of the 
American Baptist Home Mission Society 23 

Warsaw Convention 24 

The Baltimore Convention of 1841 24 

Southern Postition 24 

Compromise Article 27 

Spencer H. Cone's Service 27 

Opinions of the Convention 29 

The Free Mission Movement 31 

IV. The Phh^adeephia Meetings of 1844 34-45 

Approach of the General Convention 34 

Meetings of the General Convention 35 

Membership 35 

Slavery Discussion 36 

4 Tlie Baptists and Slaz'cry 1840-45. 

The Home ^Mission Society Meetinf^s 38 

Slavery discussion 38 

Committee on dissolution 42 

Opinions of these meetings 42 

V. Thi: Slavery Question Beeore the Home 

Mission Board 46-52 

The Georgia request 46 

Northern opinions 46 

Southern opinions 48 

Decision of the Board 49 

Meeting of the Committee on Dissolution . . 50 
Meeting of the Home jMission Society .... 51 

VI. The. Problem oe the Foreicx Mission 

Board 53-71 

The Alabama Letter 53 

Reply of the Acting Board 55 

Report of the Acting Board 56 

Public Opinion at the North 57 

Public Opinion in the Middle States 59 

Southern Sentiment 59 

The Virginia Society 60 

Southern papers and churches 60 

Opinions of Leading ^len 6^ 

Vn. Separation 72-87 

Failure of the Conservatives y2 

The Fuller- Wayland discussion y2 

The Augusta Convention 74 

Resolutions 74 

Constitution yy 

Address 78 

Meeting of the "Board of ■Managers" 80 

Contents. 5 

Special Meeting of the "Board of Mana- 
gers" 81 

Special Meeting of the General Convention 83 
Adjourned Meeting of the General Conven- 
tion 83 

The Bible Society 86 

The Publication Society 87 

VIII. Conclusion 88-92 

Influence of separation on the Church, on 
slavery, and on the Union. 




In the Slavery Controversy, beginning about 1829, 
both anti-skvery and pro-slavery men early sought the 
aid of the churches. The former, when they failed to 
secure the active support they thought their due, were- 
especially bitter toward clergymen and church members. 
Pamphlets like Birney's American Churches the Buhvarks 
of Slavery or Foster's Brotherhood of Thieves; or a True 
Picture of the American Church and Clergy, show the 
rather general opinion that the attitude of the churches- 
was the greatest obstacle to anti-slavery success.^ 

Beginning with the New England Society in 1832^ 
anti-slavery societies grew very rapidly for a few years 
and they soon demanded a decided attitude on the part 
of the churches toward their measures. The Rhode 
Island Anti-Slavery Convention at Providence in Feb- 
ruary 1836, claimed ''that the people have a right to ex- 
pect of the ministers of Christ that they will cheerfully 
engage in the work of abolition, and to call upon them 
to proclaim the truth on this subject, as those who are 
bound to declare the counsel of God." They held that "so 
far as moral means are concerned the system of Amer- 
ican slavery is now sustained chiefly through the influence 
of the pulpit."- 

Tracts and resolutions began to demand the non-feh 

^ On Lundy's visit to Boston in 1828, he talked with several 
clergymen finding them heartily opposed to slavery, but fearful 
that'it wou'kl alarm and enrage the South to know that an anti- 
slavery society was formed in Boston, thus doing harm rather 
than good by agitating the subject. Only one or two were ready 
for anv bold action. Garrison's : Garrison, i, 93-94- 

-Proceedings of Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Society, 1836. 

8 The Baptists a) id SUu-cry 1840-.JJ. 

lowship of Southern churchmembers by Northern.^^ A 
letter from J. A. Collins in the Liberator for January 21, 
1842, speaks of Birney's American ChurcJies the Bul- 
warks of Slavery : If this is true, "and I think no one can 
read his work with a desire to know the truth, and dispute 
it, I would suggest, whether abolitionists ought not as 
friends to God, to the slaves, to themselves, to bring their 
forces to bear upon the Bulwarks of that system which 
they seek to overthrow, that without any intervening 
obstacle, they may make a fresh assault on slavery." 

In the New England anti-slavery Convention of 1836, 
a resolution was proposed, that only those churches that 
employed ''their associated influence for reform" should 
be considered ''the true and real church of God." It was 
feared that this, if passed, would divide the church so 
they decided to try a little longer to purify the Church. 
However, in 1837 a resolution was adopted "urging ne- 
cessity of excommunication of the slaveholders, and a 
solemn consideration of the question whether the churches 
remaining obdurate, it be not the duty of the advocates 
of truth and righteousness to come out from among them 
and be separate."^ 

At the National Anti-Slavery Convention at Albany, 
opening July 31, 1839, the church members decided "to 
push the slave question in the churches, to abolitionize 
them if possible,and if not to secede from them."^ The 
Massachusetts Society in 1840, held that a man who apol- 
ogizes for slavery, or neglects to use his influence against 
it, has no claim to be regarded as Christ's minister, and 
churches that do not take a stand against slavery should 

'One asserted that "Baptist sells his brother Baptist on the 
auction block, and the GMethodist communes with a woman on one 
day and on the next sells her," etc. Anti-Slavery Tract No. 7, 
Revolution the Only Remedy for Slavery, p. 12 

* Chapman: Right and Wrong, p. I5- 

''Goodell: Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 488. 

Slavery and the CJinrches. g 

not be supported.^ The World's Convention urged that 
American churches excommunicate holders of slaves." 

In a letter of June 26, 1838, Roger Sherman wrote, 
"The American Anti-Slavery Society is endangering the 
peace and union of the Churches in the United States by 
making a participation in their excess, practically, if 
not in form, a term of communion. Indeed there seems 
no interest of primary importance in our country, political 
or religious, which is not put m jeopardy by the honest 
men who are embarked in this benevolent but unwise and 
disastrous enterprise, as it is now conducted."^ The soci- 
ety seemed to justify his opinion at its meeting in New 
York, May 9, 1843, when they resolved that it was the 
duty of abolitionists to withdraw from any church that 
refused to treat slavery as they treated other crimes. 
The}^ pledged themselves to belong to no church that has 
not dissolved its connection with the slave system.'^ 

As early as August, 1835, the Congregational Church 
in Winthrop, Maine, adopted a resolution refusing to re- 
ceive "a slave holder as a minister of the gospel," or as a 
"communicant at the table of the Lord." The Church 
could not reform the wickedness of the world if it coun- 
tenanced it and the Gospel forbids fellowship with the 
w^orks of darkness.^*^ A steadily growing movement 
went on, especially in the smaller towns, among anti-slav- 
ery church members to reform the churches if possible, 
if not, to separate themselves from a church that would 
not separate itself from slave-holders. 

While the anti-slavery men were so vigorously de- 

^ Garrisons : Garrison, 11, p. 337. 

^ Ibid., II : p. 280. 

^ 56 .¥//^^,, 410. 

^Wendell Phillips offered a resolution "That anti-slavery is 
only to be advanced by trampling under foot the political and ec- 
clesiastical links which bind slavery to the institutions of this 
country." The Liberator, May 26, 1843. 

'"Willev: History of Anti-Slavery, p. 55. 

lo The Baptists and Slaz'cry 1840-45. 

manding, and to a certain extent securing, the aid of the 
churches in their cause, the Southern pro-slavery men 
were becoming aware that the agitation was no longer 
confined to "a few persons of obscure character" but that 
even influential preachers of the gospel were to be found 
among the abolitionists.^^ A warning was given by the 
grand jury of Cass County, Georgia, in 1835. In refer- 
ring to intermeddling with slaves, they say : "As yet, these 
operations, as far as the jury are informed, have been 
distinct from all religious denominations of the country. 
Yet this jury would express their unafYected apprehen- 
sions from the number, character, talents and respectabil- 
ity of the agitators, that the church is destined to be ere 
long the medium through which the premeditated mischief 
is to be accomplished. This remark is made with the pro- 
foundest deference to the religious sentiments of the 
country, and it is sincerely hoped that no such will be 
offended with the suggestion that all will lend their aid 
and influence in checking the evil. The jury would res- 
pectfully recommend to their fellow citizens throughout 
the state the propriety of watchfulness over the mission- 
aries and the conduct of all the missionary agents that 
are passing through the country for the purpose of es- 
tablishing tract, temperance, Bible and all societies of that 

The Southern clergy were aroused to the defense of 
slavery both in argumentation and in prevention of unfa- 
vorable action by the National religious bodies.^^ A small 
number of northern clergymen joined them in the defense 
of slavery from the Bible, holding it not a sin since the 
New Testament recognized its existence and did not for- 
bid it to Christians. ^"^ 

" 55 NUes, 340. 

^■49 NUes, 194. 

".Tav: Writings on Slavery, p. 412. 

"Examples are, Nehemiah Adams ( Sonth-Side Adams), 

Slavery and the Churches. 


The great problem presented to the conservative men 
in the churches was, how to prevent discussion or action 
on a subject concerning which two great parties had come 
into existence. In 1837, a Pastoral Letter by the Mass- 
achusetts Association of Congregational Alinisters held 
that the ''perplexed and agitating subjects which are now 
common amongst us ... . should not be forced upon any 
church as matters for debate at the hazard of alienation 
and division. "^^ The Congregational General Association 
of Connecticut had the previous year, opposed the prac- 
tice of itinerant agents enlightening the members of 
churches without the advice and consent of the pastors 
and the regular ecclesiastical bodies. ^^ 

The Presbyterian General Assembly several times de- 
cided it was not best to take any action on the subject.^^ 
A sermon by the Rev. Samuel J. Alay could be published 
by the American Unitarian Association only after refer- 
ence to slavery had been removed. ^^ The leaders in the 
churches discouraged anti-slavery newspapers and speech- 
es and tried to keep their members, especially the clergy, 
from joining anti-slavery societies, or in any way openly 
espousing the cause. The New York Methodist Confer- 
ence in 1836, would not condemn men merely for their 
opinions regarding abolitionism but thought no one should 
be elected deacon or elder unless he promised to refrain 
from agitating the church with discussion of slavery. ^^ 
Methodist bishops vainly attempted to prevent agitation 
of the subject and annual conferences expressed them- 
selves for and against agitation.-^ 

President Lord of Dartmouth College, Professor Moses Stuart 
of Andover, Bishop Hopkins of Vermont. 

" Hart : Slavery and Abolition, p. 198. 

^" Garrisons : Garrison II. p. 130. 

^' 50 Niles, 2"5o. 

^^ Garrisons : Garrison I, 216. 

^^Mdiil^Qk', Anti-Slavery Struggle, p. 112. 

■"49 Niles 7; Mat^ack, Anti-Slavery Struggle, p. ^2. 



Because of the absence of any central governing au- 
thority in the Baptist denomination the individual 
churches naturally took their stand on slavery as on other 
questions. It was, however, usual for the associations, 
and conventions through which the churches accomplished 
certain common objects, to express opinions on matters of 
general interest. 

During the first period of anti-slavery agitation in 
the United States, there was of course, no sectional Hne. 
The Virginia General Committee of the Baptists, in 1789, 
resolved: ''That slavery is a violent deprivation of the 
rights of nature, and inconsistent with a republican gov- 
ernment, and therefore, recommend to our brethren to 
make use of every legal measure to extirpate this horrible 
evil from the land ; and to pray to x\lmighty God that our 
honorable legislature may have it in their power to pro- 
claim that great jubilee, consistent with the principles of 
good policy."^ In the same year the Philadelphia Bap- 
tist Association, agreeably to a letter from the Church at 
Baltimore, declared their high approbation of the societies 
to secure the gradual abolition of slavery, and recom- 
mend to the churches represented, to form similar socie- 
ties and exert themselves to obtain the important object.^ 
In Kentucky leading ministers declared for the abolition 
of slavery, a "sinful and abominable system." Elder Car- 
man preached immediate abolition and no Christian fel- 

^ Newman : Baptist Churches, p. 305. 

"Fuller and Wayland : Domestic Slavery, p. 18. 

Early Views. 13 

lowship with slaveholders ; and was active in spreading 
these ideas in Ohio.^ 

In the second anti-slavery period, the sectional line 
was slowly drawn among Baptists as in the country at 
large. It was estimated from the census and church sta- 
tistics, that in 1837, the Baptists held 115,000 slaves.* It 
was natural that Southern Baptists should have come to 
regard slavery as an institution of the land that they were 
powerless to abolish and should express opinions favor- 
able to slavery, and condemn anti-slavery agitation. Rich- 
ard Fuller, one of the conservative Southern Baptists, 
said, "I am unwilling to appear in any controversy which 
can even by implication place me in a false and odious 
attitude, representing me as the eulogist and abettor of 
slavery, and not simply the apologist of an institution 
transmitted to us by former generations — the existence of 
which I lament — for the commencement of which I am 
not at all responsible — for the extinction of which I am 
willing to make greater sacrifices than any abolitionist 
has made or would make, if the cause of true humanity 
would thus be advanced."^ 

The Charleston, South Carolina, Baptist Association, 
at the request of several churches, authorized its dele- 
gates to the state convention in 1822 to take measures to 
engage that body and other religious organizations in 
the State in an application to the Governor for the ap- 
pointment of a day for "Public Thanksgiving" to God 
and one for "Prayer and Humiliation before Him" in 
reference to preservation from an intended insurrection 
and distress inflicted by a terrible hurricane.^ An address 
to the Governor was prepared by Rev. Dr. Richard Fur- 

"Birney; James B. Bimey, pp. 18, 19, 164. 
*Wi]ley: History of Anti-Slavery, p. iit. The only denomi- 
nation holding more was the Methodist with about 220.000. 

"^Newman : Baptist Churches, p. 306. The date is not given. 
° Charleston Baptist Association: Minutes, Nov. 2, 1822. 

14 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-4J. 

man, himself a slaveholder. In this he defended the right of 
holding slaves as "clearly established in the Holy Scrip- 
tures both by precept and example." It was necessary to 
prove this, since arguments for emancipation were being 
based on the Bible, and many were hesitating to give re- 
ligious instruction to slaves. Such teaching should not 
be laid under an interdict as proposed by some. The in- 
terest and security of the state would be promoted by al- 
lowing considerable religious privileges to such as could 
estimate them aright.' Again in 1835 the Charleston As- 
sociation took up the subject of slavery in a memorial to 
the legislature. It was urged that the religious privileges 
of slaves be not curtailed or restricted by the legislature 
"except in cases where necessity shall clearly re- 
quire interposition.'' The Association felt responsible 
for the religious instruction of slaves, but would act, "not 
as taunted and insulted by fanatics, but as ever remem- 
bering also that they have a Master in Heaven." They 
trust that, if the system of slavery in South Carolina 
requires modification, the people and the legislature have 
wisdom and benevolence sufficient "to provide adequate 
relief at the most proper period." Any outside interfer- 
ence they would resent "come from what quarter and 
under whatever pretense it may." South Carolina had the 
exclusive right "to regulate the existence and continuance 
of slavery within her territorial limits." They believed 
that the people of the slaveholding states could never be 
convinced that their institutions were sinful and immoral 
as long as they had the Bible in their hands. This, they 
held, did not make slavery a question of morals at all. 
Christ "found slavery a part of the existing institutions 
of society, with which, if not sinful, it was not his design 
to intermeddle, but to leave them entirely to the control of 

''Exposition of the Views of the Baptists relative to the Col- 
oured Population in the United States. Dated, Dec. 24,, 1822. 
Godell, Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 186. 

Early Viezvs. 15 

men. Adopting it therefore as one of tJie allozved rela- 
tions of Society, he made it the province of his rehgion 
only to prescribe the reciprocal duties of the relation.^ 

The same year a meeting of clergy of Richmond, Vir- 
ginia, among whom were several Baptists, unanimously 
passed resolutions that they earnestly deprecated the un- 
warrantable and highly improper interference of the peo- 
ple of any other state with the domestic relations of mas- 
ter and slave. "The example of our Lord Jesus Christ ^ 
and his apostles in not interfering with the question of 
slavery, recognizing the relation of master and slave, giv- 
ing affectionate instructions to both, is worthy of imita- 
tion by all ministers of the gospel." They considered it 
not desirable for outsiders to preach to the colored popu- ^ 
lation for whom they themselves would care.^ They 
pledged themselves to receive no anti-slavery newspapers 
or pamphlets, and were "unanimous in opposing the perni- 
cious schemes of abohtionists."^*^ The same year the Ty- 
ger River Association gave a warning against abolitionists 
under the garb of strange ministers. ^^ There is shown 
in these various associations and conventions a determi- 
nation to resist interference by abolitionists and at the 
same time to provide for the religious care of the slaves. 
This leads to a question in some associations whether a 
church should receive and baptize slaves when their owner 
objects to their joining the church.^- Slavery is no longer ir 
excused by the churches but justified. 

For early abolition meetings in the North, Baptist 

^Charleston Baptist Association, Minutes, 1835. Birney: 
American Churches, the Buhvark of Slavery, p. 26. 

'The First Baptist Church of Richmond had at that time 
about 2000 blacks as members, nearly five times as many as whites. 
Hatcher : Life of Jeter, 190. 

" 49 Niles. 40. 

"Tyger River S. C. Association, Minutes, 1835. 

" Charleston Baptist Association, Minutes, 1839. The Mount 
Carmel church asks this question of the committee on queries and 
requests. The answer is no. 


1 6 The Baptists and Slazery 1840-4J. 

y Churches were often opened, Thompson, the Enghsh re- 
former, speaking in a Baptist Church in Providence.^^ 
There grew up during the early thirties a small but very 
vigorous body of anti-slavery niapiists, who gained con- 
trol of some churches and associations. The Hancock, 
Maine, Baptist Association adopted a report in 1836 de- 
claring that in their opinion ''of all the systems of iniquity 
that ever cursed the world, the slave system is the most 
abominable," and that the only remedy is immediate 
emancipation.^* The next year the association resolved, 
"That, we as the professed followers of Jesus Christ, 
have no fellowship or communion with those who under 
the character of Christians continue to hold their fellows- 
men in bondage." The Washington, Maine, Association 
voted, "That as Christians we can have no fellowship 
with those Avho after being duly enlightened on the sub- 
ject, still advocate and practice its abomination and thus 
defile the church of God."^^ 

Between Northern men holding such views and the 
radical Southerners the moderate Baptist leaders strove 
to keep peace. As in other denominations, they attempted 
to prevent discussion of slavery at the North and in 
national meetings. Lundy's first public meeting in Boston 
was held in the Federal Street Baptist Church. x\t the con- 
clusion of his remarks, the pastor of the Church, Rev. 
Howard Malcolm, rose and "passionately denounced 
the agitation of the Cjuestion of slavery in New 
England, declaring that it was too delicate to be 
meddled with by the people of the Northern 
States, that they had nothing whatever to do with 
it." He dismissed the meeting without allowing 
further remarks. ^^ Rev. Daniel Sharp of Boston, in an 

" Garrisons : Garrison II, p. 2. 
^* American Anti-Slavery Almanac, 1838. 
"Willey: History of Anti-Slavery, p. 109. 
^''' Garrisons : Garrison, I, p. 97. 

Early Viezvs. 17 

address before the Conference of Baptist ministers in 
1835, cautioned them to be prudent in matters not within 
the appropriate sphere of their action. Christ gave no 
instructions to poHtical organizations of the State. They 
should avoid controversies." Among the most noted of 
the Baptists who opposed both slavery and agitation ^ 
about slavery, was Francis Wayland. In a letter to Gar- 
rison, in 1 83 1, he explained why he did not desire to have 
The Liberator sent to him. He believed slavery to be 
wicked and destructive of the best interests of both mas- «^ 
ter and slave; but immediate emancipation was neither 
wise nor just. The slaves were unprepared for liberty. 
If immediate emancipation were desirable, it would not 
be secured by inciting slaves to rebellion, but by enlight- 
ening and convincing the masters. He thought the ten- 
dency of the Liberator was toward the former."^^ 

Wayland's view is rather fully given in a chapter of 
his work on *'The Limitations of Human Responsibility," 
published in 1838. He discusses the limits within which 
our efforts for the removal of slavery are to be retsricted 
— first, as citicens of the United States, second, as hii- 
man beings under the law of God. First, as citizens, 
there is no power whatever either to abolish slavery in the 
Southern States or to do anything of which the direct *' 
intention is to abolish it, hence, as citizens, we have no 
responsibility. The guilt, if guilt exists, will not rest on 
us as citizens of the United States. As citizens we have 
solemnly promised to let it alone. We have left to the 
"States respectively and to the people of the States, what- 
ever powers they have not conceded to us." ''I hold 
that a compact is binding in its spirit as well as its letter. 
The spirit of the compact, I suppose, imposes on me the 
obligation not to do anything for the purpose of changing 

'^' Baptist Missionary JSIagasine, XV, p. 421. 
^* Garrisons : Garrison, I, p. 242. 

i8 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-43. 

the relation of master and slave, except with the con- 
sent of the master. I have no right to declare the aboli- 
tion of slavery in another state ; I have conceded that this 
is to be left to the free choice of the citizens of that 
State; I have no right to do anything to interfere with 
that free choice. I have, therefore, no right to excite 
such a state of feeling among the slaves, that the master 
shall be obliged from physical necessity to Hberate his 
slaves, whether he believes it to be right and wise or 
whether he believes the contrary." The compact leaves it 
to the free i^'ill of the States. I must not oblige them to 
act according to my zvill. 

As to the District of Columbia, Congress had power 
but could not honorably use it. He would not own a slave, 
^'for all the gold that sinews bought and sold, have ever 

He feels the stain of slavery in the District, but would 
not wnpe it off dishonorably. He beHeves that if the right 
of the South is conceded and the question put on the true 
:ground "of concession to the honest, although they may 
think it the misguided moral feeling of the North," they 
would follow the dictates of an enlarged and disinterested 
patriotism. He will respect the right of the South but 
asks that they respect his feelings. The North has dis- 
cussed slavery "in a manner decidedly at variance with 
constitutional liberty of speech and of the press. On the 
other hand, the South has held that discussion of this 
subject in all manners and in any spirit was to be forbid- 

Second, as human beings, we have a right to attempt 
to change Southern opinion under the right to make 
known to our fellow men truth which we believe condu- 
cive to their happiness and that of men in general. It is 
of no use for abolition societies to excite and agitate peo- 
l)le at the North. They become tools of third-rate politi- 

Early Viezus. 19 

cians. They have prevented any open and cahii discus- 
sion of the subject at the South, We have no right to 
force our instructions on others, "either by conversation 
or by lectures or by the mail. If we have spoken truth, we 
should leave it to God. We may talk with Southerners in 
a spirit of love."^^ 

Such were the diverse views on slavery held by mem- 
bers of the Baptist Church in the thirties. While there 
was no ecclesiastical organization with control over local 
churches and ministers, the Baptists of the United States 
worked together in several national organizations for 
particular purposes, the oldest and most prominent being 
the "General Convention of the Baptist Denomination 
in the United States for Foreign Missions," organized in 
1814. The Convention held triennial meetings at which it 
chose a General Board of ?^Ianagers who met annually. 
By a resolution of the Convention in 1841, the Board of 
Managers w^ere instructed to choose fifteen of their num- 
ber, residents of Boston and vicinity, to be their Acting 
Board, any seven of whom should be a quorum. To this 
Acting Board, at all times responsible, should be referred 
missionarv business arising between the meetings of the 
Board of ^Managers to w^hom they should make annua! re- 
ports of all their doings. The headquarters of the Society 
were thus at Boston, but the South had always been well 
represented among the officers of the Convention.-'^ The 
members of the conventon were individuals, or delegates 
from missionarv societies, state conventions, associations 
or churches, contributing funds. The number of dele- 

"Wayland. Limitations of Human Responsibility, pp. 163 ct 

-" The presidents had been Richard Furman of South Caroli- 
na (1814-1820) ; Robert Semple of Virginia ( i<S20-i832) ; Spencer 
H. Cone of New York (1832-1841) ; Bapt. Miss. Magazine. XXIV, 
p. 144- 

20 TJic Baptists and Shz-ery 1840-4J. 

gates was in proportion to the funds paid since the last 
triennial meeting, one for every three hundred dollars."^ 
In 1832, there was formed the American Baptist Home 
Mission Society, to which missionary societies became 
auxiliary by paying into its treasury their surplus funds. 
Its meetings were held at the same time and place as those 
of the General Convention. -- 

"^Baptist Missioiiarx Magazine, XXIV, p. 144. 
"Ibid., XII, p. 185."" 



THE CONTROVERSY, 1840-1843. 

The "outward and visible" controversy over slavery in 
the Baptist Church began in 1840. In April of that year ^ 
there met in New York the American Baptist Anti-Slav- 
ery Convention, which was the outgrowth of the more 
radical anti-slavery feeling among American Baptists 
and a few of their missionaries in Burmah. This con- 
vention formed a Foreign Provisional Missionary Com- 
mittee, which later sought two things in the missionary 
work of the church: — a severance from all slavery influ- 


ence, and more strict recognition of church representation. 
Committees at the meeting reported upon the influence 
of slavery on literary and theological institutions; the 
connection of slavery with the churches ; the recipro- 
cal influence between slavery and the religious press; an 
address to the Baptist churches of the North in relation 
to their duties on the subject of slavery as it exists in 
their sister churches of the South ; the condition of free 
people of color; an address to our brethren at the South 
on the subject of slavery. This address to Southern Bap- 
tists was sent out signed by Elon Galusha, President and •" 
O. vS. Murray, Secretary.^ It proved to be somewhat of a 

November 2, 1840, the Board of Managers of the 

^ The convention elected as delegates to the World's Con- 
vention, Rev. C. P. Grosvenor of Worcester, Rev. Natlianiel Col- 
ver of Boston, and Rev. Elon Galusha of Perr}^ New York, all 
of whom were prominent in the anti-slavery controversy among 
Baptists for the next five years. Garrisons : Garrison, II, 356. Wil- 
ley : History of Anti-Slavery, 136. Foss and Matthews : Facts ^ 
for Baptist Churches, 45. This contains full account of Conven- 
tion, and Address to Southern Baptists in full. 

22 The Ba/'tists and Slavery 1840-4^. 

Baptist General Convention adopted an address stating 
that they had observed "with painful interest, indications 
of a tendency on the part of some of their beloved brethren 
and co-ad jutors, to withdraw from the missionary connec- 
tion in wdiich they have been happily associated for many 
years." The Board recalled the design of the association 
and the conditions of membership, and could see no rea- 
son for withdrawal of support of any "in view of facts 
or considerations wholly extrinsic and irrelevant." 
The Board had been held accountable "for things done 
and not done, in relation to all of i^'hich alike the Board 
has done nothing, because it had nothing to do. With 
respect to such things the Board has, so-to-speak. neither 
a name nor existence." The province of the Board is 
to carry into effect the will of the Convention, and they 
have nothing to do w^ith qualification for membership in 
Convention or Board. "There is still another subject to 
wdiich the attention of the Board has been called by some 
of their respected contributors — lying yet more widely 
aside from the spehere of their appropriate operations ;and 
if in alluding to it they break the silence of their neutral- 
ity, it is only that by defining their position, they may re- 
lieve the embarrassing uncertainty of brethren, Xorthern 
and Southern, and secure to themselves, through the di- 
vine blessing, their wanted freedom from extraneous 
anxieties in the furtherance of their own peculiar work. 
We refer to the continuance of Christian fellowship be- 
tween Xorthern and Southern Churches." This does not 
come under their cognizance or under the scope of the 
General Convention with the present constitution. "There 
is, in fact, no body ecclesiastical or civil, empowered to 
act in this particular, on behalf of the churches inter- 
ested." The churches as independent communities have 
delegated no power to individuals or associations to act 

The Controversy. 23 

for them. The l)oard can do or say nothing. Members, 
as individuals in their respective churches, may act in 
reference to this and other matters pertaining to the 
church relations. The Board appeals to all for the mis- 
sion cause. They look forward to the approaching Con- 
vention "with mingled solicitude and hope." With hope 
that they have not lost the affections and confidence of 
brethren and friends from North, South and West; with 
solicitude lest by the "unseasonable diversion of our 
thoughts to irrelevant subjects the unity of the design of 
our confederation be infringed and the harmony of our 
counsels disturbed. "- 

This satisfied neither abolitionists nor slave-holders. 
The Georgia Convention having expressed their dissatis- 
faction, the Board sent their treasurer, Mr. Heman Lin- 
coln to explain verbally. The chairman of the Georgia 
Executive Committee remarked, "If the object of the 
Board in sending their delegate to us, is to try to steer 
between us and the abolitionists, they might have spared 
themselves the expense and trouble.'' 

The Baptist Anti-Slavery Convention in Maine, on 
January 19, 1841, adopted an address to the Baptists of 
that State and another to the Southern Churches. It 
affirmed that of the two hundred fourteen Baptist minis- 
ters in Maine more than one hundred eighty were de- 
cided abolitionists ; and declared the sinfulness of slavery 
and the duty of immediate emancipation.^ 

A circular of the Executive Committee of the Amer- 
ican Baptist Home Mission Society, February 16, 1841, 
alluded to the action of the anti-slavery societies and 
said, "Our brethren at the South with great unanimity 
deprecate the discussion as unwarranted, the measures 

- Baptist Missionary Magazine, XXT, p. 200. 
■' Goodiell : Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 497. 
' Willev: History of Anti-Slavery, p. 155. 

"24 Tlic Baptists and Slavery 18JO-4J. 

pursued as fatal to their safety and complain of the lan- 
guage occasionally employed as cruel and slanderous."^ 

About a week later Elon Galusha presided at a con- 
vention assembled at Warsaw, New York, "in compliance 
with a call addressed to Christians of ever\^ denomina- 
tion in western Xew York." This body favored imme- 
diate emancipation and considered slave-holding a sin 
''so utterly at variance with the gospel of Jesus Christ" 
that Christians should withdraw all ecclesiastical connec- 
tion with those slaveholders and slave-holding churches 
who after having been faithfully and affectionately ad- 
monished, according to gospel rules, refuse to abandon 
the sin." Apologists for slaver}^, which many northern 
churches are, are as guilty as the slaveholders. Churches 
should not allow slaveholding ministers in their pulpits.*^ 

As the time for the Triennial Convention of 1841. 
approached, both sides seemed to prepare for battle, and 
one wonders that the neutrals were able to postpone the 
separation for another three years. The Savannah River 
Baptist Association considered the conduct of the aboli- 
tionists "censurable and meddlesome," and requested 
their State Convention to instruct their delegates to 
the Triennial Convention to demand of the North- 
ern brethren whether "they can acknowledge these 
fanatics as their co-workers," and to inform them 
of the impossibility of further co-operation by the Geor- 
gia Baptists unless the abolitionists are dismissed. Those 
who refuse fellowship with slaveholders because of their 
"peculiar institutions" add a "new term of salvation un- 
authorized by the rule" of Baptist faith and practice, and 
to which the members of this Association "acknowledge 
no obligation to yield obedience." The funds sent by 

^ Foss and Mathews : Facts for Baptist Churches, p. 6y. 

Goodell: Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 497. 
" 60 NiJes, 40. 

The Coiitroi'ersy. 25 

this association to the State Convention must be retained 
until the General Convention shall publish their repudia- 
tion of "the v;hole spirit and conduct of Baptist abolition- 

Several South Carolina associations passed resolu- 
tions because of the address of the American Baptist , 
Anti-Slavery Convention signed by Elon Gatusha, Presi- 
dent of that body and one of the Vice-Presidents of the 
Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. Delegates to the 
Triennial Convention were to be instructed to obtain ex- 
pression of its approbation or disapprobation of such 
views and sentiments, so that if it approved these views 
and threats, Southern Baptists might take measures for 
forming a separate missionary body.^ 

The Camden, South Carolina church expressly asked 
that Elon Galusha be expelled from the office of Vice- 
President of the Board of Foreign Missions, making this 
a condition of their future connection w^ith the Board. 
They viewed with contempt the advice, opinions, menaces 
and declarations of Elon Galusha and his co-adjutors, 
contained in their addresses to Southern Baptists. They 
ordered this address returned to Elon Galusha with the 
request that he would never again insult them with an 
address of any kind. They expressed fraternal regard 
for Northern Baptists who were opposed to the abolition- 

The Charleston Association called on associations and 
churches to consider the necessity of the formation of a 
Southern Board of Foreign Missions since their earlier / 
appeals had been disregarded and abolitionists seemed by 
no means disposed to change their course. Until this 

' Savannah River Association, Minutes, 1840. 
* Ready River Baptist Association, Minutes, 1840. 

Edisto Baptist Association, Minutes, 1840. 
'Goodell: Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 496. 

Pillsbury: Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles, p. 406. 

26 The Baptists avd Slavery 1840-4^. 

new Board is formed, Southern Ijaptists should continue 
contributions through the Boston Board "unless, indeed, 
circumstances more unforeseen warrant a different 
course." There was decided opposition to the appoint- 
ment of delegates to the Triennial Convention, the vote 
standing nine to seven. ^" 

Still another association expressed confidence in the 
Foreign Alission Board "notwithstanding the mischievous 
course recently pursued by one of their Vice-Presidents 
on the exciting subject of abolition." They awaited some 
expression from the Triennial Convention before making 
a declaration of their position. ^^ 

The South Carolina State Convention which followed 
the meetings of the associations quoted, was assured by 
the agents of the American and Foreign Bible Society 
and the American Baptist Home ^Mission Society that the 
numbers and infiuence of abolitionists among Baptists 
are small and feeble. The great body in the Xorth have 
no sympathy with them, and no desire to interfere in the 
smallest degree with the institutions of the South ; and 
will be ready to express disapprobation with abolitionists 
at Baltimore. The Convention expressed gratification at 
these statements, and full confidence in the "integrity,. 
Christian temper and true-heartedness of these brethren, 
but because of general disquietude among Southern 
churches caused by the proceedings of Baptist abolition- 
ists, advised that the delegates to the Triennial Conven- 
tion meet beforehand and decide on course of action 01. 
this subject in the Triennial Convention and afterwards 
report to their constituents.'' - 

Among the publications at this time is a Reply to Dr. 
Richard Fuller of South Carolina by Elon Galusha in 

'"Charleston Baptist Association. Minutes. 1840. 
" Welsh Neck Baptist Association. Minutes, 1840. 
^- South Carolina Baptist State Convention, Minutes, Decem- 
ber, 1840. 

The Controversy. 27 

which an attempt is made to prove from the Bible the 
sinfiihiess of slavery. Then Thornton Stringfellow pub- 
lished an essay on the other side with some remarks on 
Galnsha's letter.- ' 

When the General Convention assembled in Balti- 
more in 184 1, conditions looked most unfavorable for a 
peaceful convention or for the continued union of Bap- 
tists, North and South. Two days before the meeting of 
the Convention the Southern delegates had met and de- 
cided that, in order to allay excitement at the South", 
some of the ultra and obnoxious anti-slavery members 
of the old ]]oard should be left ofif the new Board. ^"^ This 
was done, Elon Galusha for example being replaced by 
Richard Fuller. 

In a secret caucus of Northern conservatives and 
Southerners, a compromise article, discouraging innova- 
tion and "new tests," and disclaiming participation in 
the doings of the abolition Baptists w^as signed by seven- 
ty-four persons. The understanding was, that slavery 
was a subject with which the Convention had no right 
to interfere.^'' The storm seemed to have passed by. 
vSpencer H. Cone of New^ York was of great service in 
the Convention through his tact and his eloquence.^® 
When the Bible cause was before the convention he made 
a plea for union, which, when delivered with his great 
dramatic power, might well have moved his audience. I 
quote a portion, "To the successful prosecution of this 
enterprise union is indispensable. Do soldiers and poli- 
ticians and men of the world, appreciate duly the impor- 
tance of this principle, in their various spheres of action? 

^'Stringfellow: Brief Examintion. 
^*Kelirjious Herald, March 13, 1845. 

'"' Birney, American Churches; Goodell, Slavery and Anti- 
Slavery, p. 498; Religious Herald, Apr. 24, 1845. 
^'•^ Cone : Cone, p. 276. 


The Baptists and Siazery 1840-4J. 

God forbid that they should continue to be wiser in their 
generation tJian the children of light are in theirs." He 
recalled the devotion of the soldiers in the battle of North 
Point, September 12. 1814, in which he himself had taken 
part and continued, "^ly brethren, shall men thus devote 
themselves to their countrv^ and follow their leader, 
whether to live or die, and shall we not manifest equal 
devotion to the cause of the great Captain of our Salva- 
tion? Do we talk of Union? Baltimoreans ! participa- 
tors in the scenes of September, eighteen hundred and 
fourteen, preach to American Baptists, I beseech you, 
on the nature and necessity of nnion. Remember the 
bombardment of Fort ■\IcHenry, as from the opposite 
hill-top we watched the range of each successive shell, 
and as it exploded groaned inwardly as though it were 
the death knell of some brother in arms ; remember, that 
full ten thousand men were at the same moment pressing 
with hostile feet our native soil, and already within a 
few miles of this devoted city, remember that as we pre- 
pared to meet them how every avenue for miles around 
was crowded with women and children, flying for safely ; 
then when we saw the troops from IMaryland, Virginia 
and Pennsylvania coming to our aid, 'did we ask from 
what States do they come?' Did we pause to discuss do- 
mestic institutions or local prejudices? No! the stars 
and stripes upon their floating banner bespoke a common 
country and a common cause, and to preserve the bold 
American Eagle from the British Lion's paws, was the 
ardent, the common purpose of every patriotic heart. 
We heard the immortal Washington, the father of his 
country, though dead, yet speaking, — united we stand, 
divided we fall; and shoulder to shoulder, we breasted the 
storm of war. And shall we not much rather be united 
in wieldino- the sword of the spirit, which is the word of 

The Controversy. 29 

God ; in obeying the commandment of Him, who came 
not to destroy men's lives but save them!'^'^ 

The Southern delegates before leaving Baltimore ad- 
dressed a letter to their constituents. They said, "The 
election of the Board of Managers resulted agreeably to 
our wishes." A member of the Convention wrote in a 
Southern paper, ''Our meeting was truly delightful. The 
spirit of the Gospel prevailed and gave a tremendous 
shock to the abolitionists. Let us be thankful to God, 
and give Him glory. And now if we of the South and 
they" of the North, whose sympathies are with us, shall 
be mild, T am satisfied that abolitionism will go down 
among Baptists, All our principal men are sound to the 
core on this vexed question." He praises highly the self- 
possession, calmness and Christian spirit which predom- 
inated throughout the discussions of this exciting sub- 

Not all were so well satisfied with the Convention. 
Dr. Wayland who was not present, wrote, February, 
1842, "I fear that there was not in all respects, and in 
all parties, the godly sincerity becoming men and Chris- 
tians. In the first place a man's being an abolitionist or 
a slave holder per se in my mind would work no disa- 
bility. If a slaveholder manifested in that relation a 
spirit inconsistent with Christianity or if an abolitionist 
showed such tempers as rendered him an unfit member 
of such a board, I would leave either off, just as I would 
for anything which was a disqualification. The paper in 
question, however, seems to have worked badly, and a 
great dissatisfaction has been produced without any good 
result. The manifesto, or by what name so ever it be 
called, I always thought unwise. I never could see any 

^^ 60 Niles, 226. 

'' Pills'bury, Forlorn Hope, p. 40; Acts, p. 408. 
Southern associations in 1841 express satisfaction, Edisto 
S. C. ; Savanah River, Minutes. 

30 TJic Baf'tists and Slazcry 1S40-4J. 

reason for which sucli a paper should be demanded, and 
so far as I see T never would have signed it and so I 
have always said. It was on the part of most persons 
kindly meant but unwisely done. What you say about 
the election looks not well. It looks like a sort of political 
intrigue, a thing which from my heart I do eschew, 
Selah !" After some discussion of the organization and 
work of the Board, he says, "They intend to keep its oper- 
ation clear from every thing else whatever, and be impli- 
cated neither with slavery nor abolitionism. I never 
w^ould sit with them for a moment after they involved 
themselves with or against anything for which they were 
not appointed. "^^ 

Severe criticisms of the Baltimore Compromise were 
common in the North. In reply to Nathaniel Colver's 
Charges Refuted in the Christian Reflector, a communi- 
cation appeared in TJie Watchman of Februar}^ 11, 1842. 
signed by Daniel Sharp, Barnas Sears, Wm. Hague, 
Ebenezer Thresher, Joel S. Bacon, and Solomon Peck. 
They sought to vindicate their private character from 
charges made regarding the Compromise Meeting. 

Abolitionism did not "go down among Baptists" after 
the Convention at Baltimore, and anti-slavery sentiment 
grew. Most of the Eastern Baptist papers became anti- 
slavery although not all abolitionist.-" Eighteen hundred 
and forty-three was the year of the Hundred Conven- 
tions in New England. The common people, among 
whom were many Baptists, w^ere being converted in large 
numbers.-^ The anti-slavery movement was becoming 
decidedly religious. Especially was this true in Maine, 
where about this time the Baptist church in Augusta 
split on the question of receiving slaveholders into 

"Letter to Rev. E. R. Smith, New Hampton, N. H. 
^"Religious Herald, Mch. 31, 1842. 
-^Austin: Weiidiil Phillips, p. 112. 

The Controversy. 31 

Church, communion or pnlpit.-- In western states like 
Illinois most of the adherents of the cause between 1836 
and 1845 were men who believed slavery forbidden by 
the Bible, hence a sin.-^ 

The Foreign Provisional Missionary Committee form- 
ed in New York in 1840, had not secured either of the 
changes it sought: — a pronounced severance from all 
slavery influence and more strict recognition of church 
representation and control in the work of missions.-^ 
They felt that the I'altimore Agreement would exclude 
abolitionists from office in the national bodies. To many, 
the union with slaveholders in the cause of missions 
implied fellowship with slavery; and there was a growing 
aversion to "tainted money." 

In the Christian Rcflcctcr, for May 10, 1843, ^P" 
peared an address "To the Friends of Missions in the 
Baptist Denomination of the United States who believe 
that missions ought not to be supported by the gain of, 
or any connivance with, oppression." The formation of 
the American and Foreign Free Baptist Missionary So- 
ciety is announced and those in sympathy with its funda- 
mental principles are invited to attend a meeting to adopt 
a suitable constitution. In a resume of the circumstances 
leading to the formation of the society, the growing feel- 
ing of the iniquity of working with slaveholders and us- 
ing mone}- from slavery for converting the heathen is 
shown. Efforts for a better plan had been made the pre- 
ceding year through the Baptist Anti-Slavery Conven- 
tion. Only temporary arrangements were then entered 
into since there was hope of a refonn of the old organiza- 
tion. These temporary plajis, however, were defeated 
by the ruling of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions 

"■ Willey : History of Anti-Slavery, p. 243. 
. "■" Harris : Negro Servitude in III., p. 142. 
-^ Bat>tist Bncy., p. 415. 

32 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-45. 

that no funds should go to any of their missionaries ex- 
cept through the accustomed channel. The Provisional 
Committee, needing advice under these circumstances, 
called a meeting of Baptist anti-slaver\^ friends in Boston 
on May 3rd, with reference to this objectionable action 
of the Board of Foreign Missions. ]\Iany went to the 
Convention expecting the formation of a permanent mis- 
sionary organization, but " it was found that the Baptist 
Board of Foreign Missions had after the publication of 
the call,'' re-issued their old circular of "neutrality" in 
which they refuse to take sides against slaver}^ or aboli- 
tion. This so far satisfied some members of the conven- 
tion who thought it a real though not avowed expression 
of favor to the abolitionists, that they preferred to wait 
another year, hoping that the slaveholders because of the 
avowed neutrality of the Board, would voluntarily with- 
draw from the General Convention and the Board. Some 
others wished to defer action in order to discuss the ques- 
tion at the General Convention in Philadelphia in 1844, 
and endeavor to reform that body. Another and large 
portion, not favoring delay, concluded not to make it 
the action of the Convention but separately to form the 
American and Foreign Missionary Society. The only 
objection of many to this course, was the hope of total 
separation between slaveholders and the Convention at 
the next Convention. If this did not take place, they 
would join the new society. The paper continues, "AVe 
expect them soon, for we have not the slightest expecta- 
tion that the general convention or its Board will in any 
reasonable time throw oft their partnership with slave- 
holders." A meeting of all willing to sign their pledge 
was called for May 31, at Tremont Temple, Boston. 
The pledge bound the signers to support a Baptist Mis- 
sionary Society separated from all connection with the 
known avails of slavery, in the support of any of its be- 

The Controversy. 33 

nevolent purposes : and to separate themselves ''from all 
connection with religious societies that are supported in 
common with slaveholders." Among the signers of this 
address were S. Adlam of ]\Iaine, and C. P. Grosvenor 
and W. H. Brisbane of jMassachusetts.-^ 

-' Tlie Liberator, May 26. 1843. The secretary of the society 
thus formed was Wareham Walker, a pastor in Utica, New York, 
who in 184s edited an anti-slavery paper in Elgin, III, and became 
later editor of the American Baptist in New York. ///. Baptist 
Pastorial Union. 




I think the Board of Managers must have again 
looked forward to an approaching Convention "with 
mingled solicitude and hope." While there were still 
many in the church who desired to avoid any discussion 
of slavery in the national gatherings, there were others, 
both North and South, wdio hoped the question would 
now^ be taken up and settled.^ 

A letter from New England signed S. C. C, in the 
Religious Jlerald for April 4, 1844, considered the pos- 
sibility of division, but thought very few at South or 
North desired it. The large body of Baptists at the 
North were as much opposed to the abolitionists as were 
those at the South. The number of Baptists in the Lib- 
erty Part}' could not be large since the entire member- 
ship w^as not over 57,000. The slavery question, how- 
ever, should be brought up and settled, not left to dis- 
turb the peace and social intercourse of brethren at their 
Triennial Assembly. "If a subject worthy of considera- 
tion, why not consider it now?" If the North does not 
bring it up, the South should. The subject should be 
freely handled, and disposed of in one way or another, 

"in a manly, dignified and Christian-like manner." In 
the same paper, a week later, D. B. writes somewhat 
differently of the approaching Convention. "With a por- 
tion of our northern brethren all eft"orts at compromise 
and conciliation, all trimming of ways to please, will be 
of no avail ; the decree has gone forth and until the bill 
of divorcement has passed the house, all with them will go 
^ Religious Herald, April 4, 1844. 

Meetings in 1844. 35 

wrong." He wishes "a final settlement of the line of 
demarcation between the two sections of country." 

The attendance at the Convention was unusually 
large, and was distributed among the States as follows :- 

Maine 11 

New Hampshire 7 

Vermont 11 

Massachusetts 103 

Rhode Island 35 

Connecticut 33 

New York 92 

New Jersey 11 

Pennsylvania 46 

Delaware 2 

District of Columbia 5 

Maryland 7 

Virginia 43 

North Carolina 3 

South Carolina 10 

Georgia 6 

Alabama 2 

Kentucky 14 

Ohio 8 

Indiana 1 

Illinois 4 

Michigan 2 

The membership in other societies holding their an- 
niversaries at the same time brought the number in at- 
tendance up to six or seven hundred. 

The total number of Baptists in the United States at 
this time was something over seven hundred thousand.^ 
It is difficult to get the exact numbers in particular states. 

^ Baptist Missionary Magazine, XXIV, p. I45- 
^69 Niles, 139. 

2,6 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-45. 

I give the membership in some of the most important 
states, as found in The Ahnanac and Baptist Register 
for 1845 • 

Maine 23,860 

Xew Hampshire 10,825 

A'ermont ^0,404 

]\Tassachiisetts 3^.842 

New York 99.331 

Pennsylvania 28.044 

Ohio 32415 

Mrginia '^2j:^2>^ 

Xorth CaroHna 38,180 

South Carolina 38,927 

Georgia 32J43 

Alabama 33.665 

Mississippi 17.305 

Kentucky 67,179 

The Religions Herald estimated the white Baptists at 
the South at two hundred eighty thousand and at the 
Xorth about three hundred eighteen thousand. 

Dr. Johnson declined re-election as president, because 
the state of his health did not permit him to perform the 
arduous duties, and because for twenty-one out of thirty 
years the Convention had had a Southern president'. It 
was generally understood that the abolitionists had come 
prepared to contest Dr. Johnson's election. Dr. Francis 
Wayland of Rhode Island was chosen president and Dr. 
J. B. Taylor of Virginia, Secretary. 

At the meeting of the Convention, Thursday evening, 
April 25, the discussion of the slavery question took place 
on a resolution which not only did not mention slaver}^, 
but was intended to prevent agitation of the subject. 
Dr. Fuller of South Carolina ofifered a preamble and res- 


Meetings in 1844. 2)7 

olutions. The Convention is for a specific purpose. "Co- 
operation in this does not involve nor imply anv concert 
or sympathy as to any matters foreign from the subject 
designated.'' He expressed the hope that the members 
would act as Christians and gentlemen. The motion was 
seconded by Dr. Cone of New York, who hoped the Con- 
vention would attend only to the business for which it 
came together, and for which its constitution provided. 
Mr. Colver of Massachusetts opposed the resolution. It 
made nothing definite, and if it did, he was opposed to 
its adoption. He did not wish to be fettered in respect 
to any subject. Mr. Hague explained that this resolu- 
tion disclaimed any connection or- approval of any insti- 
tution at the South. Dr. Fuller wished it understood 
that the South generally did not regard the documents 
signed at Baltimore in any sense of approval or conniv- 
ance at slavery. Personally he was not convinced it was 
a sin but regarded it as a great evil. His brethren at the 
South did not. He hoped and prayed that the time would 
come when it would be done away. Dr. Cone reminded 
them of the understanding when the constitution was 
adopted that attention would be confined to foreign mis- 
sions. Dr. Jeter saw no discrepancy between the Con- 
stitution and the resolution and hoped it would be passed. 
In answer to a question. President \\'ayland said the 
Charter did not limit the Convention to foreign missions, 
but the constitution did expressly limit its action to for- 
eign missions exclusively. After further discussion, the 
resolution was withdrawn for the following by G. B. Ide 
of Philadelphia : — ■ 

"Wherkas, There exists in various sections of our 
country, an impression that our present organization in- 
volves the fellowship of the institution of slavery, or of 
certain associations, which are designed to oppose this 

38 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-45. 

Resolved, That in co-operating- together as members 
of this Convention in the work of Foreign Missions, we 
disclaim all sanction either expressed or implied, whether 
of slavery or of anti-slaver\^, but as individuals, we are 
^ perfectly free both to express and to promote our own 
views on these subjects in a Christian manner and spirit." 
This was received with many expressioub of satisfaction, 
and without discussion passed unanimously. The mem- 
bers of the Convention then sang a hymn and had prayer, 
''in view of the happy termination of this exciting ques- 

The editor of Kiles Register in speaking of the Con- 
vention, remarked that the Baptist Church was agitated 
over slaverv" and ''got rid of it for the time by laying the 
whole subject on the table. "^ 

The American Baptist Home "Mission Society met in 
Philadelphia at the same time as the General Convention, 
sessions being so arranged as not to conflict. It was in 
its meetings that the slavery discussion began earliest 
/ and was carried on most vigorously. Tuesday afternoon, 
April 23, ]\Ir. Adlam of jMaine ottered the following: — 
'AMiereas, the question has been proposed whether the 
board will or will not employ slaveholders as missionaries 
of this society, and whereas, it is important that this 
question should receive a full and unequivocal answer, 
therefore: — Resolved that, as the sense of this society 
a minister being a slaveholder should present no barrier 
to his being employed as a missionary of this society.'^ 
Discussion was laid over till Friday morning, when Dr. 
Fuller offered as an amendment to Mr. Adlam's reso- 
lution : "Resolved that, as the constitution of the Home 
Mission Society clearly and distinctly defines its object 

* Religious Herald. May Q. 1844. Baptist Missionary Maga- 
zine. 24:1^7. Newman: Baptist Churches, pp. 44-5. 
°66 Niles, 192. 

Meetings in 1844. 39 

to be the promotion of the gospel in North America, and 
as it is provided by such constitution that any 'auxiliary 
society may designate the object to which the funds con- 
tributed by it shall be applied, and may also claim a 
missionary or missionaries according to such funds, and 
select the field where the missionary or missionaries shall 
operate, that to introduce the subject of slavery or anti- 
slaver}^ into this body is direct contravention of the whole 
letter and purport of the said constitution; and is more- 
over a most unnecessary agitation of topics over which 
it has no control, and as to which subjects, individuals 
are left as free and uncommitted as if there were no such 

Mr. Allen, the corresponding secretary, explained that 
funds were generally designated for particular states, us- 
ually those from which the money came. This accounted 
for the fact that there were more missionaries appointed 
to labor in the South than North or Hast as they pay more 
money into the Treasury, 

Mr. Jones asked if the Board ever inquired as to 
qualifications and character of missionaries, to which 
Mr. Allen answered, "Yes." 

Dr. Fuller did not desire to urge the question, nor 
would he flinch from it. If the brethren thought best 
to separate, he would not object to that step, but he 
hoped they would reflect. It would be a dangerous ex- 
periment. A rupture in the Baptist denomination would 
be disastrous not only to the Church, but to the nation. 
He spoke severely of the motives of those who presented 
and advocated the resolutions ; and created considerable 
excitement. Dr. Fuller considered slavery a great evil 
and a deplorable calamity, not a sin. To prove it one, 
a new Bible must be produced. In some cases an evil 
must be remedied by degrees. The introduction of such 
a resolution was a contravention of the spirit of the 

40 TJic .Baptists and Slavery 1S40-4J. 

constitution. The proper step would be to move an 
amendment of the constitution. Dr. Jeter, who after 
some dispute, obtained the floor, agreed with Dr. Fuller 
that slaver}^ was not a sin. The Bible sanctioned it. The 
condition of individuals and of the nation might be made 
worse by trying to make it better. The proposed step 
would do this. 

At this time, the society adjourned until afternoon 
when Dr. Jeter continued his remarks. He did not fear 
his opponents but feared the results as they would affect 
the church. He understood his anti-slavery brethren 
thought slavery incompatible with Christian character. 
To this, Dr. Colver nodded assent. Dr. Jeter appealed 
to common sense, to the Convention, to God. 

Mr. Welch of Albany, believed slavery a moral evil, 
opposed to every article of the decalogue. The time was 
fast coming when this evil would be done away. To Dr. 
Fuller's question how this was to be done, Mr. Welch 
answered, "By bringing the matter more fully before the 
public and securing their approbation." Dr. Fuller asked 
what he would do if he had the co-operation of the pub- 
lic. The audience expressed approbation of the answer 
that he would proclaim universal liberty. Mr. Welch 
offered as an amendment to Dr. Fuller's amendment, the 
following: — "Whereas, exciting sentiments on the sub- 
ject of slaver)^ evidently obtain in this body, seriously 
threatening its peace and efficiency, infusing confusion 
into its cousels, and impairing the confidence and affection 
of its members in and for each other, therefore, 

Resolved, That under existing circumstances it is 
inexpedient to employ as missionaries in the service of 
the Board any brother known to claim the right of prop- 
erty in his fellow man." This was seconded. Mr. Jeter 
thought this opposed, to the first amendment and to the 
spirit of the constitution. 

Meetings in .1844. 41 

Mr. Colver favored the original motion since it would 
secure what both parties wanted, an unequivocal decis- 
ion. After some further discussion the society adjourned, 
but on its re-assembling", the subject was resumed. Mr. 
Adlam explained his putting his motion in affirmative 
rather than negative, form, while he was an avowed 
abolitionist. Dr. Cone made remarks calculated to secure 
calm and unprejudiced decision on the subject, reading 
parts of the report of the executive board made some 
years previous. 

i\lr. Brown of the District of Columbia, thought the 
question [X)litical and outside the province of the society, 
while Dr. Colver believed it a practical, not a political 
question. It should be decided, and if it caused division 
of the society that would do less harm now than later. 
Let it be a peaceful and brotlierly separation. Slave- 
holders were incompetent to hold the position of mis- 
sionaries of the society. He respected the sincerity of 
his southern brethren and felt for them. He proposed 
that the resolution be made negative. Mr. Dodge of 
Pennsylvania, favored indefinite postponement. He 
could prove that slavery was not a moral evil. The reso- 
lution, if adopted, would bring about the division of the 
church, and that was not the time to divide. He disliked 
the distinction between Northern and Southern brethren. 
After a motion to indefinitely postpone, etc., the 
society adjourned until Monday morning. At the Mon- 
day morning meeting, after brief discussion, the society 
rejected IMr. Welch's amendment to the amendment, 
and adopted Dr. Fuller's amendment by a vote of 123 to 
61. Mr. Ide ofl:'ered the resolution, "That the American 
Baptist Home Mission Society be now dissolved and that 
the subject for which it was formed be referred back to 
the state conventions," which was laid on the table. ^Ir. 
Tucker of New York made appropriate closing remarks 

42 The Baptists and Slaz'ery 1840-4^. 

while much feehng was manifested. ]\Ir. Church of 
New York offered a resolution, "That three from the 
North, three from the South and three from the West, 
with the President of the Society as Chairman, "be ap- 
pointed to take into consideration the subject of an amica- 
ble dissolution of this society or to report such alterations 
in the constitution as will admit of the co-operation of 
brethren who cherish conflicting views on the subject of 
slave-holding.'' This was seconded, and after discussion 
by Messrs. Peck of Illinois, Peck of New York, Dagg of 
Georgia, and Kennard of Pennsylvania, passed unani- 
mously. The committee consisted of Messrs. Jackson of 
Massachusetts, Church of New York, Gilpatrick of 
Maine, Dagg of Georgia, Johnson of South Carolina, 
Taylor of Virginia, Going of Ohio, Malcolm of Kentucky, 
and Sherwood of Illinois. On motion, Mr. Colver of 
f)Oston was added to the committee. After remarks by 
the President the society adjourned.^ 

The two great national missionary societies thus prac- 
tically refused to take action on the slavery question, and 
left the burdens of decisions, if any had to be made, to 
their respective Boards. During the Summer various 
opinions were expressed regarding the action or lack of 
action at Philadelphia. The Religious Herald (Rich- 
mond, Mrginia) rejoiced that by the passage of the reso- 
lution disclaiming all sanction express or implied with 
slavery or anti-slavery, the matter had been settled and 
the convention was on its original ground, a missionary 
organization solely, in which brethren from East and 
West, from North and South could co-operate." In a 
later number of the Herald, a correspondent censured the 
"zeal uncontrolled by a sound judgment and the coarse 
language of the abolitionists." The responsibility for slav- 

" Religious Herald, May ist, 1844. 
''Religious Herald, May ist, 1844. 

Meetings in 1844. 43 

ery lay with the slave-holder and God would not hold 
the Northern brethren accountable for the misconduct of 
masters, if there was any. He commended the "dignified, 
the noble, the Christian demeanor of the Southern dele- 
gates.'" If there was a division in the Convention or the 
Home Mission Society, the North would have the respon- 
sibility. The writer seems to have been in a fault-finding 
frame, for he objected to the young men who were "hop- 
ping up" to speak in the Convention more often than was 

The Christian Reflector (Boston, Mass.), remarked 
that the action made it unnecessary longer to fellowship 
slavery or slave holders as such, in the work of missions.^ 
The Reflector for August 22nd, asserted that, with the ^ 
rapid extension of anti-slavery influence, the entire dis- 
connection of the Board with slavery was an event near 

at hand. This, the Herald believed, meant that the North- 


ern abolitionists had patched up a truce to collect means 
of making war more efifectually, and hoped soon to obtain 
a majority and exclude the slave-holders.^'^ 

The Baptist Anti-Slavery convention at Albany, on 
September 4th, held that the Triennial Convention and ^ 
its Board had manifested an incurable pro-slavery spirit, ^ 
and were essentially committed to the fellowship of slav- 
ery and the employment of slave-holders as missionaries. 
The time had come for a permanent free missionary or- 
ganization. Committees were appointed to prepare an 
address on the present relation of the Triennial Conven- 
tion to slavery, and an address to Southern churches 
and ministers. The Religious Herald approved of the 
consistent action of the Albany Convention and expressed 
its belief tbat the Triennial Convention was as nmcli 

^Religious Herald, May 16, 1844. 
" Pillsbury : Forlorn Hope, p. 42. 
^^ Rcl'gious Herald, Sept. 5, 1844. 


The Baptists and Slavery 1S40-4J. 

connected with slavery, as ever it had been. "^lany 
others, professing to be abolitionists, cling to the con- 
vention, impede its operations, excite strife for no pur- 
pose, since nothing can be done before the next meeting." 
Thev certainly gained nothing at the last meeting.^^ The 
Micliigan Christian Herald, speaking of the same conven- 
tion at Albany, regretted the split in the North, but, "so 
far as the South is concerned, we have no tears to shed 
over the separation." A southern paper commenting on 
this, says, "So the excision of three hundred seventy-five 
thousand members in the south is nothing to shed tears 
over." Probably we can get on without the aid of the 
eight thousand Baptists in ^Michigan. "We can separate 
and go on peaceably. But in the North, our withdrawal 
will not assuage the angry elements. ''^- 

The Boston Association in the summer adopted a 
resolution offered by P)aron Stow, expressing their dis- 
approval of the wrong of slavery, and urging all profes- 
sors of religion connected with this system to separate 
themselves from it as speedily as possible. The Salem 
Association in ^Massachusetts disapproved of the free 
missionary movement since they had confidence in the 
ability of the Board of Managers to care wisely for the 
business committed to them.^-' But the A'ermont Baptist 
Anti-Slaver}^ Society in October resolved that it could 
not patronize any missionary society employing slave- 
holders or advocates of slavery to preach the gospel under 
its direction. They rejoiced that at all the great conven- 
tions of the people recently held, whether for religious 
or civil purposes, the question of slaver}^ had formed a 
prominent topic of discussion. They considered this, "a. 
clear indication that God is arranging his providences to 

" Religions Herald, Sept. 26, 1844. 
" Religions Herald, Oct. 3, 1844. 
^"^ Religions Herald, Nov. 14, 1844. 

Meetings in 1844. 45 

bring about a darling object of the divine mind, viz, the 
aboUtion of slavery in our country."^* 

Dr. Fuller wrote, July 16, 1844, "The abolition ques- 
tion is harrassing church and state. Mr. W. is miserable 
because he thought I pronounced slavery a sin, and the 
fanatics on the other side quarrel with me for defending 
it out of the Bible. Well, well, in such a world, a man 
who is in his senses must lay his account to be considered 


A letter from a Southerner in New England in Octo- 
ber gives an opinion of conditions. iNIany churches have 
declared non-communion and non-fellowship with all 
slave-holders. Some even advocate non-fellowship with 
all who fellowship slave-holders. "A separation of the 
churches of the North from the churches of the South 
must act as the entering wedge to a dissolution of our 
political bonds. 

It is to be feared that the Methodist Church will be 
divided into two great parties, with mutual jealousies 
and antao:onistic measures. The Presbyterians are in 
danger oi the same evil. And if the Baptists unmindful 
of their duty to Christ and their country, shall bite and 
devour one another, and array themselves into two great 
parties, the Northern and the Southern, what conserva- 
tive principles, what salt of the earth will be left to 
restrain and moderate the madness of political strife and 
ambition and save from ruin our Republic."'' 

'* Religious Herald, Jan. 2, 1845. ^ 

. '' Cuthbert : Fuller, p. 227. 

^"Religious Herald, Oct. 24. 1844. 



Very soon after the meetings in Philadelphia, the 
Executive Board of the Home Mission Society was called 
upon to make a decision on the slavery question. The 
Georgia Convention at its session in April, instructed its 
executive committee to recommend to the Board of the 
Home Mission Society, Mr. James E. Reeves of Georgia 
for appointment as a missionary, informing that Board 
that he was a slave-holder.^ The letter of application 
said, "We wish his appointment so much the more as it 
will stop the mouths of gainsayers, — There are good 
brethren among us, who notwithstanding the transactions 
of your society at Philadelphia, are hard to believe that 
you will appoint a slave-holder a missionary, even when 
the funds are supplied by those who wish this appoint- 
ment." While this application was under consideration 
by the Board, associations and churches in North and 
South were expressing opinions. The Home Mission 
Committee of the New Hampshire Convention on June 
25th, recommended the designation of their money so 
that, in no case, it should go for missionaries that held 
slaves. They deemed it morally wrong to sanction or 
support a slaveholder, and remonstrated against any such 
being appointed by the Board. They wished their dele- 
gates to the next meeting of the Home Mission Society 
to use their influence so to alter the constitution as to pro- 
hibit the employment of a slaveholder as a missionary. - 

^ Cone, Cone, p. 277. 

^ The Maine Convention took the same ground The Ver- 
mont Convention and some associations in New York requested 

Home Mission Board. 47 

The Michigan Christian Herald reminded its reader 
that at the late meeting of the American Baptist Home 
Mission Society in Philadelphia, the question whether 
slaveholders should be appointed missionaries, and the 
Constitution so altered as to make slaveholding a dis- 
qualification, was referred to a committee of ten, four 
from the North, three from the South and three from the 
West, who were to obtain the views of their several sec- 
tions and report at the next annual meeting at Providence. 
--- The religious sentiment of the North and West is fast 
setting against the vile system of American Slavery. 
However^ much may be allowed for the embarrassing 
circumstances in which many slaveholders are placed, 
still the system they uphold must be regarded as a great 
evil; yea,'more, as a flagrant sin, for which a speedy and 
thorough repentance is demanded."" On October third, 
the Michigan Convention unanimously disapproved of the 
appointment of slaveholders as missionaries of the Home 
Mission Society.-^ 

The Baptist Association of Wisconsin June 26-27, 
passed resolutions ''That the union of religious Societies 
in the free and slave states, to raise funds for the spread 
of the gospel and the circulation of the Bible, while it 
denies both Bible and Gospel to the slaves, is a system 
which virtually sells to slaveholding ministers and church- 
es the right to make heathen and perpetuate heathenism 
at home, so long as they pay a tithe of the profits into 
the Lord's Treasury to christianize the heathen abroad. 
*'That the great ecclesiastical bodies and church organiza- 
tions which are in communion with slavery, 'sanction and 
sanctify' 'the sum of all villainies and present the great- 
est obstacle in the way of emanicipation, identifying them- 
the Board not to appoint a slaveholder. Religious Herald, July 

II, 1844- , o 

"-Northwestern Baptist, Aug. 15, i«44- 
* Religious Herald, Oct. 31, 1844- 

48 The Baptists and Slazrry 1840-45. 

selves with "Babylon"' by sustaining the traffic in slaves 
and the souls of men'' and rendering themselves obnox- 
ious to the charge in God's word 'when thou sawest a 
thief then thou consentedst with him and hast made thy- 
self partaker with adulterers.' " All christians should 
use "every means consistent with law, humanity and re- 
ligion to abolish American Slavery.''^ 

When the Home Mission Society asked the question 
"Do you approve the appointment of any man as a mis- 
sionary of the societ}^, who is a slaveholder, i. e., one who 
holds his fellow men as property?" the First Church 
of Boston, of which Dr. R. X. Xeale was pastor, voted, 
"We give a negative answer, because we believe that 
though good and pious men have held slaves, slavery is 
nevertheless a great moral evil, and we wish it entirely 
disconnected from our missionary operations and from 
the Church of Christ."*^ It is possible that the circular in 
which this question is asked was sent out unofficially, by 
a member of the committee appointed to ''take into con- 
sideration the subject of an amicable dissolution of the 
Society, etc." 

Southern men announced that they should expect the 
Board to appoint a slaveholder should the South recom- 
mend one. The Virginia Board had requested the ap- 
pointment of a \^irginia man without any special refer- 
ence to slaveholding. The Home ^lission Board were 
considering the candidate, but were waiting for further 
information on a point quite apart from slavery. The 
South was satisfied with the constitution as it was, and 
would resist any change." It was suggested to the New 
Hampshire and Elaine brethren that the decent way to 
settle the matter would lie for them to withdraw. A small 

"" Nortliwestcrn Baptist, Aug. 15, 1844. 

"Wood, History of First Baptist Church of Boston^ p. 333. 

''Religious Herald. July 11, 1844. 

Home Mission Board. 49 

minority, possibly forty-three thousand in Maine, New 
Hampshire and Vermont, and seven thousand in West- 
ern New York were requesting the expulsion of mere 
than half of the denomination.* 

The Goshen Association in Virginia in September, 
advised the withholding of money from the Home Mis- 
sion Society until all questions as to the use of its funds 
for the support of missionaries hostile to Southern inter- 
ests be settled." It objected to the Society's sending 
agents into the State. Air. Roper, himself a Vi-rginian,. 
the representative of the Home Mission Board in that 
State, considered this at least premature until further evi- 
dence of unfairness. He believed the Board would as 
soon appoint a Southern as a Northern man. He was 
not ''satisfied that the acceptance of an agency under 
the Home Mission Society is a crime of such magnitude 
as to disfranchise" him. 

In October a decision was reached by the Board after 
five meetings of three hours each, the vote being seven ^ 
to five against appointing Mr. Reeves. The vote was 
taken by yeas and nays.^° Mr. Hill the corresponding 
secretary writes: — "We disclaim attributing to our ly 
Georgia brethren a desiQ:n to disturb the deliberations of 
the Board by introducing the subject of slaverv through 
the medium of their application, but such evidently is 

its tendency," In direct contravention of the whole 

letter and purpose of the constitution, "it introduces the 
subject of slavery. A consideration of the application 
would introduce a discussion forbidden by the constitu- 
tion, the circular of the Board in 1841, and the resolution 
of the Society in 1844. When an application is 
made for the appointment of a slaveholder, or 

^Religions Herald, Sept. 26, 1844. 
^Religious Herald, Sept. 19, 1844. 
^" Cone, Cone, p. 2yy. 

50 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-4J. 

an abolitionist or an anti-slavery man as sucli, the Board 
is under no obligation to act on the appointment. They 
are not at liberty to entertain the application for the 
appointment of the Rev. James E. Reeves. "^^ 

Some in the South still thought there was no reason 
for complaint about the decision of the Board on the 
grounds stated, since the South could ask for the ap- 
pointment of competent men without mentioning the fact 
that they were slaveholders.^- This was not, however, a 
general feeling. Dr. Cone of New York, believed the 
Board would have voted for Reeves "if nothing had been 
said" about his being a slaveholder, but they construed 
the information into an ungenerous and offensive test. 
He felt separation inevitable since on one side many were 
unwilling that a slaveholder should be commissioned as 
a missionar}' and on the other, it was held that such per- 
sons as the South recommended must be appointed or 
the Society dissolved. He hoped for a kindly separation, 
and feared division of the Foreign ^Mission and the Bible 
Societies as disastrous. 

A notice appeared in Baptist newspapers in the early 
part of April 1845, calling a meeting of the committee 
appointed by the Home ]\Iission Society in 1844, to con- 
sider "the amicable dissolution of the society, or to report 
such alterations in the constitution as will admit of the 
co-operation of brethren who cherish conflicting views 
on the subject of slavery." The Committee were re- 
quested to meet in the First Baptist Church in Providence 
on Monday, April 28th. ^•' At this meeting the committee 
adopted the following, "Whereas, The American Baptist 
Home INIission Society is composed of contributors re- 
siding in slaveholding states, and Whereas the Constitu- 

^^ Religions Herald, Oct. 24, 1844. 
'' Religious Herald, Oct. 24, 1844. 
" Religious Herald, April 3, 1845. 

Home Mission Board. 51 

tion recognizes no distinction among the members of the 
vSociety as to the ehgibility of all to the offices and ap- 
pointments in the gift both of the Society and the Board;'' 
and Whereas it has been found that the basis on which 
the Society was organized is one upon which (not) all 
the members and friends of the Society are now willing 
to act ; therefore, 

Resolved, that it is expedient that the members now 
forming the Society should hereafter act in separate 
organizations at the North and at the South in promoting 
the objects which were originally contemplated by the 

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to re- 
port a plan by which the object contemplated in the pre- 
ceding resolution may be accomplished in the best way 
and at the earliest period of time consistently with the 
perservation of the constitutional rights of all the mem- 
bers and with the least possible interruption of the mis- 
sion work of the Society." This report was fully dis- 
cussed at the meeting of the Society following, at the 
same place. Prominent on the conservative side was Dr. 
Wayland, who hoped to prevent precipitate action in the 
matter of dissolution. But "extreme abolition sentiments 
on the part of the Northern members and exacting de- 
mands on the part of members from the South proved 
more than a match even for Francis Wayland."^"^ The 
report was adopted. A resolution of Dr. Maginnis pro- 
viding for a peaceful dissolution of the Society passed 
and a committee to report a plan of separation was chos^ 
en. consisting of Rev. Drs. Magginnis, Wayland, Sears, 
Rev. Messrs. Tucker, Webb and Taylor, and Hon. J. H. 
Duncan. I^heir report was adopted, leaving the charter 
at the North and securing a just proportion of the funds 
of the Society to the South. Although the Board was 

"Riley: The Ba[>tisfs, p. 206. 

52 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-45. 

not restricted, it was understood that no more slavehold- 
ing missionaries w ould be appointed.^''' 

" Some northern conventions expressed approval of 
the decision of the Society, and southern conventions or 
associations severed their connections with it since it had 
adopted ''resohitions designed to effect a division of 
Southern Baptists from the Society/^ On June 21st, the 
Baptist Board of Managers for Domestic Missions which 
had been formed in the South, appointed Messrs. Hart- 
well, DeA^otie and Jewett, a committee to confer with the 
Executive Committee of the Home IMission Society "re- 
specting matters of common interest to the two orders."^^ 

In 1846 the Home Mission Society adopted a new 
constitution which cut oft" the auxiliaries. One reason 
given for this was that in certain quarters, attempts had 
been made "to control the parent society about matters 
of local policy concerning wdiich there were different 

Since the issue arose first in the Home Mission Soci- 
ety, T have traced to its conclusion the separation in that 
bodv. Certain events best treated in connection with the 
Foreign Mission Society will make the reasons for what 
took place in the Home Mission Society more evident. 

^^68 Niles, 165. 

^"^ Religious Herald, June 12, 1845. 

'' Religious Herald, Juh' 10, 1845. 

"'Goodell: Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 506. 



To the Foreign Mission Board was presented, not a 
specific case, but a hypothetical question. It was claimed 
by certain Southern men that just subsequent to the 
Philadelphia Convention in 1844, the Board caused the 
retirement from its service of Rev. John Bushyhead, a 
highly respected Indian preacher because he owned slaves. 
This created an impression in the South that the Board 
would not in the future appoint slaveholders. Dr. R. E. 
Pattison, Home Secretary of the Boston Board, was 
thought to have intimated that the Board would no longer 
tolerate slavery. 

At the meeting of the Alabama Convention, in the fall 
of 1844, the matter was brought to its attention by a 
query from the Tuscaloosa Church, the authorship of 
which is attributed to Dr. Basil Manly, Sr. : — Is it proper 
for us in the South to send any more money to our 
brethren at the North for missionary and other benev- 
olent purposes before the subject of slavery be rightly 
understood by both parties? This query together with a 
communication from the Georgia Convention was refer- 
red to a committee of which Dr. Manly was chairman. 
The Committee prepared resolutions which were sent to 
the Acting Board in Boston on November 25, 1844. "Let- 
ter of the Baptist State Convention of Alabama to the 
Board of Managers of the Baptist General Convention. 
Whereas the holding of property in African negro slaves 
has for some time excited discussion as a question of 
morals between different portions of the Baptist denomi- 

54 The Baptists and Slaz'cry 1840-4J. 

nation united in benevolent enterprise : and by a large 
portion of our bretbren is now imputed to the slavehold- 
ers in these Southern and Southwestern States, as a sin, 
at once grievous, palpable, and disqualifying; — 

1. Resolved, by the Convention "that when one 
partv to a voluntary compact between Christian brethren, 
is not willing to acknowledge the entire social equality 
with the other as to all the privileges and benefits of the 
Union, or even to refrain from impeachments or annoy- 
ances, united efforts between such parties, even in the 
sacred cause of Christian benevolence cease to be agree- 
able, useful or proper." 

2. We must demand from the authorities of bodies 
to whose funds we contribute, ''the distinct, explicit 
avowal that slaveholders are eligible and entitled equally 
with non-slaveholders to all the privileges and immunities 
of their several unions, and especially to receive any 
agency, mission or other appointment, which may fall 
within the scope of their operations or duties." 

3. To prevent assumption by Societies, Boards, 
etc., of the rights of the churches, when any question aris- 
es as to fitness of an individual to receive appointments 
the question of morals should be left to his own particular 

4. Copies of the resolutions are to be sent to the 
bodies for which any funds may be designated, calling 
attention to the second resolution. If an ansv/er is re- 
ceived, a special meeting of the convention will be called. 
Copies are to be sent to the conventions in other slave- 
holding states. No money is to be paid out until answer 
is received.^ 

The answer of the Acting Board was looked for with 
great interest, by others than the Alabama Baptists. It 
was announced that the Baptists as a body would be as 

^ Baptist Mission. Maga.ziuc, 25 :220. 

Foreign Mission Board. 55 

prompt to protect their rights and to act independently 
as any other portion of the South. - 

The reply of the Acting Board is dated December 
17th. They regret that the resolutions were sent since 
it was unnecessary. They say, "We have never as a 
Board either done or omitted to do anything which^ re- 
quires the explanations and avowals that your Resolutions 
demand." They must either answer hypothetical questions 
and discuss principles or seem to be evasive and timid, 
afraid to give the information asked. They agree wnth 
the first point of the letter. They have never questioned 
the social equality as to all privileges and benefits of the 
Foreign IMission Union. They add, we have never, "offi- 
cially impeached or annoyed you." 

As to the second point, the Board admits that slave- 
holders and non-slaveholders are unquestionably entitled 
to all privi1e':^es and immunities of members of the Bap- 
tist General Convention, but no one, however large his 
subscription, is entitled to appointment. This power is 
confided to the Acting Board. In thirty years, no slave- 
holder has applied to be a missionary. The Board does 
not send out servants, so could not send slaves. "If 
however, anv one should offer himself as a missionary, 
having slaves, and should insist on retaining them as his 
property, we could not appoint him. One thing is certain, 
we can never be a party to any arrangement which would 
implv approbation of slavery." 

^the Board agrees to the independence of 
churches, it would not interfere with the discipline of any 
church. The Board must decide on the prudential, 
moral, reli.eious and theological fitness of candidates. 
Churches decide as to fitness to belong to their body. 
The Board is sorry not to receive funds since engage- 
ments have been entered into. They close, "We have. 
-Religious Herald, Dec. 26. 1844. 


56 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-4J. 

with all frankness, but with entire kindness and respect, 
defined our position. If our brethren in Alabama, with 
this exposition of our principles and feeHngs can co-oper- 
ate with us, we shall be happy to receive their aid. If 
they can not, painful to us as will be their withdrawal, 
yet w^e shall submit to it, as neither sought nor caused by 
us. There are sentiments avowed in this communication, 
which although held temperately and kindly, and with 
all due esteem and Christian regard for brethren ad- 
dressed, are nevertheless, dearer to us than any pecuniary 
aid whatever.''" 

In their report the Acting Board state that in their 
reply they have established, "no new principle of action." 
They have simply stated in answer to the question, "what 
they would not be able to do in a particular case." The 
ground of this inability they have not stated. They 
adhere to the neutrality they had heretofore avowed. 
This was their meaning in the succeeding sentence : — 
One thing is certain we can never be a party to any ar- 
rangement which would imply approbation of slavery." 
That is, ''as it was never the design of the Acting Board 
to become an anti-slavery body, no more was it that it 
should be a pro-slavery one."^ 

The members of the Acting Board, 1844- 1847 were 
Daniel Sharp, President ; Richard Fletcher, Mce-Presi- 
dent; Solomon Peck and Robert E. Patterson, corre- 
sponding secretaries ; Baron Stowe, recording secretary ; 
Heman Lincoln, Treasurer; Managers: — Barnes Sears, 
Wm. Leverett, Irah Chase, Wm. Hague, Ebenezer 
Thresher, Rollin PI. Neale, Robert W. Cushman, Robert 
TurnbuU, Gardner Colby.^ 

Various statements were made as to the attitude of 

^ Baptist Missionary Magazine, 25 1221. 
*Bapiist Missionary Magazine, 25 :223. 
^Baptist Missionary Magazine, 25 -.132. 

Foreign Mission Board. 57 

particular members of the Board on the decision.*^ Baron 
Stowe wrote that on the principle of excluding slave- 
holders, a majority were agreed on the ground of con- 
science and the remainder on the ground O'f expediency. 
The whole were agreed on two points, "First, that what- 
ever the reasons which might be assigned for their in- 
ability, fJiey could not appoint as a missionary to the 
heathen such a slaveholder as they described. Second, 
that they could not be a party to any arrangement which 

would imply approbation of slavery In relation to 

some parts of the circular there was a difference of views, 
but as they pertained to questions of expediency rather 
than of conscience we were able by mutual forbearance 
and concession to come to a unanimous conclusion."' 

The Northern Baptist papers generally, except the 
Christian Watchinan, approved the action of the Board. ^ 
The Cross and Journal (Ohio) and the Michigan Christ- 
ian Herald expressed decided approval, as did Zion's 
Herald (Maine) the Observer (Vermont) the Christian 
Reflector (Boston) and the Christian Secretary (Con- 
necticut). The Morning Star, the organ of the Free-will 
Baptists, approved the action, but thought consistency 
required that the Board refuse to receive money from 
slaveholders. The Free Missionary, the organ of the 
American and Foreign Baptist Missionary society took 
the same ground. Dr. W. H. Brisbane, editor of the Chris- 
tian Politician at Cincinnati thought the Board should 
not receive further contributions from slaveholders. Dr. 
Brisbane, who was born near Charleston, South Caro- 
lina, had himself brought his slaves to Ohio, and started 
them for themselves. The New York Advocate, "regrets 
that the Union should be disturbed, but presumes the 

^Religious Herald, April 10, May i, 1845. 
^ Ibid., June 19, 1845. 
^ Ihid., April 10, 1845. 


58 The Bahtisfs and Slarery 1840-45. 

Board acted from pure and upright motives, and expres- 
ses no opinion in reference to the act itself." The New 
York Baptist Register expressed its fears of the separa- 
tion, but gave no opinion on the action of the Board. 
The Christian Watchman hitherto the organ of the Board, 
disapproved. The lioard might have refused to answer 
an abstract question and if the union between the North 
and South is dissolved, it will be sundered by a mere 
abstraction. Later, it says, "while we can not admit, 
therefore, that the late action of the Acting Board, is 
unconstitutional in the sense of having taken awav any 
one's rights, for in practice it effects nobody, yet we 
must admit that it extends beyond the constitutional 
powers and duties of the Board, by undertaking to settle 
what the Convention has left unsettled.^ 

The Maine convention approved the action of the 
Board on the Alabama resolutions as indicating the ad- 
vancement of sound anti-slaver}^ views in the Northern 
Baptist Churches. It tabled a resolution against com- 
munion with slaveholders and another expressing disap- 
proval ''of any new test of Christian f ellowship,and conse- 
quently of the indiscriminate rejection of professed 
Christians who are cursed with the system of slavery.''^^ 

-Many at the North were sorry the break had come, 
but would still stand by the Board. The men who had 
held the churches back for some vears had lost their 

Some resolutions of ministers of Philadelphia and 
vicinity passed March 18, 1845, come in well between 
Northern and Southern views : — ''Resolved, unanimously, 
that we deeply deprecate the division in Foreign Mis- 
sionary labors v.hi(di has arisen between the brethren of 
the South and the North, from the agitation of the ques- 

'^' Religious Herald. April 3. 1845. 
'"Ibid., August 14, 1845. 

Foreign Mission Board. 59 

tion of domestic slavery ; we would particularly and ear- 
nestly recommend to both parties the exercise of christian 
forbearance and brotherly kindness. 

Resolved further, That we cordially approve and will 
faithfully adhere to the resolution respecting neutrality 
on the subject of slavery and anti-slavery which was 
passed so harmoniously at the last General Convention." 

The Baptist Record of Philadelphia deprecated sepa- 
ration and thought both parties in fault.^^ 

A meeting of ministers in the District of Columbia 
in April, 1845, expressed disapproval of the decision of 
the Acting Board as unconstitutional and in contravention 
of the "perfect social equality" which must subsist be- 
tween North and South if they are to work together. 
They urged the brethren to stand by the general Con- 
vention and besought the Board at Providence to adopt 
such measures as would maintain the integrity of the 
Convention and the spirit of the resolution of 1844. If 
the General Board did not do this, it should call a special 
meeting of the Convention, not North of Philadelphia 
or South of Richmond. They urged the brethren at the 
Augusta meeting, not to adopt any measures tending to a 
dissolution of the Union in the General Convention. 
Division would have an unhappy bearing not only upon 
the cause of Christ but upon our National Union. The 
subject under discussion is the only one that can cause 
disunion. If religious bodies must divide on it, how can 
we expect political parties to bear the excitement ?^- 

Karly in 1845, ^ southern paper expressed its fear 
that the co-operation hitherto existing in the cause of 
missions could no longer continue. It would be seen 
whether the fanatical spirit now prevalent in the North 
would obtain such ascendancy as to render union no long- 

'^ Religious Hcarld, April 3, 1845; Baptist Record, Mch. 19, 


^'-Religions Herald, May 8, 1845. 

6o The Baptists and Siaz'cry 1840-4^. 

er practicable. The South would throw the responsibility 
on the erring- brethren. It ^vould strive to prevent their 
bringing their measures into the general societies but if 
it failed it would withdraw, knowing that the division 
was not of its seeking nor caused by its officious zeal. 
The editor adds, "But we jnust meet in the societies and 
in their Boards as brethren having equal rights and equal 
privileges or else not at all."^^ 

An editorial in the Religious Herald of ^larch 6th 
announced the decision of the Acting Board, "It is with 
feelings of pain, mortification and deep regret that we 
communicate to our readers, the fact that the Board of 
the General Convention, after mature deliberation, in 
answer to the inquiries of the Alabama Convention have 
announced that they can not give their countenance to 
slavery, by appointing a slaveholder as a missionary. 
The members of the Board, by this act, have assumed a 
fearful responsibility. It will eflectually break up all 
harmonious co-operation and action betwixt the North 
and South and probably lead to the formation of a separate 
organization.*'. ."The Board of the Virginia Baptist For- 
eign Missionary Society will probably meet and decide 
on the course suitable to the emergency created by this 
unexpected decision of the Board of the Convention." 
The next week, a communication from the Virginia Board 
appeared. It would not have forced the issue. The decis- 
ion of the Acting Board is an outrage on Southern rights ; 
it is unconstitutional and a violation of the compromise 
resolution of the last Convention. It is unjust to South- 
ern supporters of the Convention. Even if it were not 
intended to produce division, it is as unwise as it is unjust. 
There is no meeting of the Convention for two years, 
and even then redress can not be expected. The A^irginia 
Board, therefore decided that further connection with the 
^^ Religious Herald, Jan. 8, 1845. 

Foreign Mission Board. 6i 

Acting Board on the part of the South was inexpedient. 
The treasurer was to hold any money, to be disposed of 
as the Society directed at its annual meeting. They 
recommended a Convention of those aggrieved by the 
recent decision of the Boston Board "to confer on .the 
best means of promoting the Foreign Mission cause and 
the other interests of the Baptist denomination in the 
South. Augusta, Georgia was suggested as a suitable 
place, and the "Thursday before the second Lord's day in 
J\Iay next" as a conveinent time. Churches and Associa- 
tions were recommended to appoint delegates. 

On April loth, appeared "An address to the Baptist 
Churches in Virginia and the Baptist denomination of 
the United States generally," signed by James B. Taylor, 
President and C. Walthall, Secretary. It announced the 
holding of the Southern Convention, and expressed views 
on this important movement : — 

1. We wish not to have a merely sectional conven- 
tion. We separate from the Boston Board "not because 
we reside at the South but because they have adopted 
an unconstitutional and unscriptural principle to govern 
their future course. The principle is this : that holding 
slaves is under all circumstances incompatible with the 
office of the Christian ministr}\ On this point we take 
issue with them ; and verily believe that when the mists 
of prejudice shall have been scattered, we shall stand jus- 
tified in the eyes of the world. For ourselves we cordially 
invite all our brethren, North and South, East and West, 
who are aggrieved by the recent decision of the Board 
in Boston, and believe that their usefulness may be in- 
creased by co-operating with us, to attend the proposed 

2. As there is no principle of representation estab- 
lished, churches, associations, etc., are urged to send as 
many delegates as possible. 


62 TJic Baptists and Slaiery 1840-4J. 

3. Several important subjects besides that of or- 
ganizing a Foreign ^Missionary Society will probably 
come before the Convention, such as the possible necessity 
of organizing a separate Bible Society and Publication 
Society, or a Soutnern Theological Institution. The aa- 
dress closes, The Convention, "will stand in pressing need 
of divine guidance. For this let us all devoutly and con- 
stantly pray."^"^ 

Opinions of the decision -of the Boston Board and 
of the call for a Southern Convention are expressed in 
conjunction in Southern papers. \\'hile disapproval of 
the Acting Board in general, there are those who do not 
believe separation necessary since there may be a chanec 
of reversal by the Board of Managers or by the General 

The Biblical Recorder, Raleigh, North Carolina, thinks 
the decision no valid reason for withdrawal. The Board 
admitted that slaveholders are entitled to all privileges 
which the constitution of the General Convention grants 
its members, and did not call in question social equality. 
etc The editor agrees with the Board that the Alabama 
Resolutions were uncalled for, and the Board might have 
been in better business than in answering them. The 
Board would be as well employed "by going on with 
their appropriate duties as a Board, and leaving the issu- 
ing of manifestos about what they would or would not do 
to some one better acquainted with such operations." He 
believes the Board meant to do right, and if left alone zvill 
do right, and will merit the undivided confidence of the 
South. Later the same paper criticizes the action of 
both the Acting Board and the \'irginia Society as most 

The Index (Georgia) thinks "the A'irginia brethren 

" Religious Herald, April 10, 1845. 
^' Religious Herald, April 3, 1845. 

Porcign Mission Board. 63 

have responded, to the Xorthern Board promptly, wisely 
and discreetly," and believes there will be no division in 
the ranks in (Georgia, Florida, Alabama or Mississippi. 

The Baptist Banner hopes for a reorganization of the 
Triennial Convention with the seat" of the Society re- 
moved from Boston, the hot-bed of fanaticism, to some 
more central location. The Boston Board "has neither 
the right nor the power to dictate to the churches the 
terms and conditions upon which the mission is to be 
conducted or the union of the denomination preserved. "^'^ 
In the Religious Herald for March 13, the editor re- 
views the history of the slavery question in the last two 
Triennial Conventions. The last Convention decided it 
had no control over slavery or anti-slavery. Both slave- 
holders and non-slaveholders were placed on the Board. 
This principle has always held. Since the Convention 
has done this the Board, which is the agent of the Con- 
vention, should do the same. Their opinions on slavery 
have nothing to do with the matter. They should be 
guided by the rule of the Convention. On so momentous 
an occasion the Board should have called in the other 
members of the General Board of whom seventeen re- 
side in slaveholding states. The editor thinks a portion 
of the New England Baptists did not join the Free Bap- 
tist Missionary Society, hoping to influence the Board to 
some act that would cause a rupture with the South. 
Under present circumstances further co-operation on the 
part of the South is neither expedient nor desirable. To 
be consistent, the Board must reject slaveholding agents 
and slaveholding members of the Board ''The Con- 
vention must rid itself of all alliance with slavery or 
slaveholders, and self-respect points out that it would be 
more honorable to withdraw^ than to be driven off." 
One more newspaper opinion will be sufficient, but 

^'Id., April 10, 1845. 

64 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-45. 

this gives a rather interesting summary of the progress 
of the anti-slavery movement. The Biblical Recorder 
which has been mentioned as disapproving the action of 
both the Acting Board and the Virginia Foreign Mis- 
sionary Society, held that the storm of fanaticism was 
subsiding. A separation in the denomination is what the 
abolitionists had worked for, for ten years. If now the 
South separates, without asking the Board of the Con- 
vention, and if necessaiy the Convention itself, for an 
explanation the blame will justly rest on the South. The 
editor of the Herald, answers this, claiming that anti- 
slavery sentiment is increasing not decreasing. Five 
years ago there was one Baptist anti-slavery paper, now 
every journal in New England with those of ^Michigan, 
Ohio and one in Illinois are anti-slavery. Three take the 
ground of non-fellowship with slaveholders, and two are 
against taking their money. Before the Convention, four 
were neutral. The Wisconsin Convention has declared 
non-fellowship with slavery. The attitude of the Free 
]\Iissionary Society is of importance. Five years ago our 
missionaries had given no intimation that slavery or anti- 
slaverv occupied their attention. When the Provisional 
Committee was organized it addressed a circular to all- 
missionaries, asking if they were willing longer to receive 
part of their salary from slaveholders ; if not, the Com- 
mittee would support them. Mr. and Mrs. ^^'ade agreed 
to receive their support from the Provisional Committee. 
Later Mrs. Wade gave a donation for the support of 
runaway slaves in Canada and Mr. Alason gave Mr. 
Tappan of Xew York an order on the Boston Board for 
ten dollars to aid in the escape of runaway slaves. In 
the Christian Reflector is an address of the Provisional 
Committee expressing approbation of the decision of the 
Acting Board, and saying ''the missionaries in Burmah 
once had it under consideration to request the Board 

Foreign Mission Board. 65 

to deduct from their scanty salaries the probable amount 
secured from slave labor. In 1840, the Methodist Gen- 
eral Conference refused to act on documents and petitions 
on the subject of slavery. In 1844, the question was dis- 
cussed and resolutions passed which has resulted in the 
division of North and South. There is no abatement of 
zeal in this cause. The letters of Dr. Fuller may have 
convinced some thinking men that the institution is not 
so unscriptural or sinful as they had believed,but the mass U 
are unaffected by his arguments. There is little probabil- 
ity that the General Board or the Convention would re- 
verse the action. The Baptist Advocate thinks separa- 
tion will follow and gives no intimation of any wish or 
intention to make any effort to reverse the decision. The 
Xew York Baptist Register, heretofore conservative, 
savs. "The hostility of the North to the system of slavery ^ 
at the South, can not be extinguished or modified. Com- 
paratively few, to be sure, are engaged in organized ac- 
tion against it;, .yet, wdth very few exceptions, take the 
entire North, and they are in heart and soul opposed to 
slavery. .Would it not seemingly be far better that if there 
be a division it take place between the North and the 
South? Few of us seriously considering the matter even 
wuth strong sympathy for the South, can come to any 
other decision." The editor of the Register classes New 
York with the North. If it with its 100,000 Baptists 
adheres to the Board it decides the question. Ohio and 
Michig'an have taken sides, and Indiana and Illinois 
Vv411 probablv follow\ There are in these states and in 
New England, friends who consider the action of the 
Board unconstitutional or inexpedient, but a large major- 
ity will sustain the Board. If the Board at Providence 
should reverse the decision, the Acting Board would re- ^ 
sign and wnth it New^ England, Ohio, Michigan, portions 
of New^ York and Western Pennsylvania would also with- 

66 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-4J. 

draw from the Triennial Convention. The Register says 
"Patience and forebearance wiH be pleaded for no doubt, 
by many who have long enjoyed Christian intercourse 
on both sides of the line. But many again have in their 
estimation passed this point. What then, but an increased 
division at the North can be looked for by further efforts 
to perpetuate the irnion. A serious rupture at the North 
is seemingly inevitable, if it be longer insisted on, and 
compromises and accommodations are arranged to efifect 
it. Compromises have been made, but what stability is 
to be expected from them, in circumstances of such strong 
and interminable excitement.". .. ."Is there any pros- 
pect of making our annual meetings any other than places 
of excitement and debate, if the Union should be longer 
maintained? We certainly can not see a gleam of hope, 
nor do we believe that any one else can. If so, why is it 
not best that our Southern Brethren take their position 
on one side of the line and we take ours on the other." 
The editor of the Herald believes the South can work 
harmoniously together, but questions whether the North 

A^arious Southern churches and associations passed 
resolutions approving the action of the \^irginia Society, 
and disapproving of the action of the Acting Board. ^^ 
The Wentworth Street Church of Charleston, South 
Carolina, made an appeal to the Board of Managers of 
the Convention, stating their objection to the action of the 
Acting Board. They requested the Board of ^Managers 
to revise the reply of the Acting Board, and intreated 
them to withdraw it.^'' The A^alley Association of Vir- 
ginia thought the Acting Board had virtually declared 

''Religious Herald, April 17, 1845. 
'^ Ibid., April 3, 1845. 
''Ibid., April 24, 1845. 

foreign Mission Board. 67 

''that slaveholders are not worthy to be partakers with 
them ill preaching the gospel to the heathen."-'^ 

The Board of the China Mission in Kentucky called 
the action of the Board at Boston "an arrogant assump- 
tion of the ecclesiastical power."-^ 

The Executive Committee of the Georgia Convention 
and invited brethren, unanimously agreed with the Vir- 
ginia brethren and joined with the Augusta Church in 
inviting Baptists of Southern and Southwestern states 
to meet in Augusta.-- 

Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee expressed 
disapproval of the Acting Board and of the Home Mission 
Society, although Tennessee did not act until August, 
having hoped to avoid separation. 

The Kentucky Convention approved the vSouthern 
Convention but expressed its feeling of obligation as a 
border state to^labor incessantly to promote that harmony 
among good men of every section of the United States 
which the exciting questions growing out of slavery are 
calculated to interrupt." It expressed continued con- 
Hdence in the American' and Foreign Bible Society which 
forms a "noble exception to the alarming disposition man- 
ifested by several of our Northern missionary organiza- 
tions to violate the great principles on which we have 
hitherto co-operated."-^ 

I will close opinions from religious bodies with that 
of the Alabama Board: — " Resolved, That with much re- 
luctance and grief we are compelled to consider the com- 
munication from the Acting- Board of the Baptist Gen- 
eral Convention to be a full and candid avowal that they 
are not v/illing to acknowledge our entire social equality 
as to all the privileges and benefits of the Union and 

"° Religious Herald, May 29, 1845. 
"^Ihid., May i, 1845. 
"Ibid., April 10, 1845. 

^^ Religious Herald, June 26, 1845. 

68 Tlic Batfisfs and Shrc'cry 1840-4^. 

therefore, in the opinion of both parties our united efforts 
cease to be agreeable, useful or proper."-^ 

Interesting letters from leading- men appeared in the 
papers during the spring of 1845. A letter from Dr. 
Jeter to Dr. Sears is sent to the Rcli^lGiis Herald for 
publication since the author wishes it to be seen by Xorth- 
ern friends. He lamented the measures of the Alabama 
Convention as he desired to go straight forward "in the 
field of labor encountering real but not creating imag- 
inary difficulties." Speaking of the Board's decis- 
ion, "Had they decided that it would generally or even 
universally be inexpedient to appoint slaveholders as 
missionaries, I should have hesitated to break my con- 
nection with them. I readily concede that it would be 
inexpedient to appoint a slaveholding missionary to any 
station where prejudice against slavery prevails. But the 
decision of the Board is based on the principle that slave- 
holding is necessarily, or under all circumstances sinful — 
so sinful as to disqualify the transgressor, however 
worthy in other respects for the Christian ministry.*' 
They place their refusal on the ground "that they can not 
sanction or even seem to sanction slavery." The practi- 
cal bearing is that if a man sells his slaves he is all right. 
Thev could not appoint me to take a collection in my 
own church. They could not vote for slaveholders for 
any office in the Convention. The members of the Act- 
ing Board and those who concur with them in their de- 
cision might possiblv be guilty of this inconsistency for 
a while, but the taunts of IHtra Abolitionists and a regard 
to their own character would soon compel them to aban- 
don > the untenable ground. The Board have adopted a 
principle that must "soon or late carry them the whole 
length of the most uncompromising abolitionists." I 

-'Ibid.. April 17, 1845. 

Foreign Mission Board. 69 

suppose the Board adopted what they thought the most 
pohtic course, most Hkely to promote the interests of For- 
eign Missions. They thought it wiser to secure the un- 
div^ided co-operation of Northern Churches even at the 
risk of forfeiting the favor of the South. But agreeing 
with the view in the circular of the Virginia Foreign 
Missionary Society, "I think the Acting Board did not 
pay attention to right, to equity, to precedents, and to the 
relation which they sustain to the Convention." The 
North under the same circumstances would not be ex- 
pected to longer co-operate. The thought of separation 
is most painful. When I think of the "disastrous influence 
of division on our denominational prosperity, the mis- 
sion enterprise and (may v^od avert the evil) the perpe- 
tuity of our happy political union, my heart sinks within 
me." There is no question of what the South should do 
under the circumstances. There is no ground for hope 
that the Acting Board would change their decision, or 
that the General Board would overrule it. With the 
weight of the Board against us, we could not anticipate 
redress from the Convention in regular or extraordinary 
session. Discussion, strife and alienation would go on. 
Contributions for mission cause would cease. "If we 
must part, let us do it in love. Separation may tend to 
allay exasperation."-"' 

A letter from Eli Ball admits the necessity of separa- 
tion but thinks it should not be on geographical lines. 
There are many in all states who prefer to co-operate in 
missions regardless of slavery or anti-slavery ; many who 
do not wish to submit to the dictation of some ultra-abo- 
litionists who are pleased with the late decision. Such 
a society would prevent local prejudices, and have a 
favorable bearing on the political interests of our country. 

-' Religions Herald, April 3, 1845. 

70 Tiie Baptists and Slai'cvy 1S40-4J. 

Should religious bodies be divided by the line that sep- 
arates slave from free states, who can tell what might 
be the tendenry of such a spHt to sever the United States. 
He trusts that in forming a new Convention, in locating 
its Board, and arranging its anniversary meetings, spe- 
cial care will be taken not to interfere with the Triennial 
Convention and the Acting Board now located at Boston. 
"For the self-denial, fervent labors, sacrifices and de- 
vout piety of the Acting Board of the Triennial Conven- 
tion and their qualifications to conduct the mission under 
their care, I entertain the highest respect. If we must 
separate from such men, as Paul and Barabas separated, 
let us, as thev did, prosecute each in his own way, the 
same great work, with the same great object before us."-*^ 
Daniel J. Garnett. president of Shiloh Baptist Do- 
mestic ^[issionary Society, Culpepper County, \'irginia, 
could not take the ground held by most of his friends. 
He writes, "The Foreign ^Mission Board were pressed 
to a decision by the Alabama Piaptist State Convention. 
Thev were put to the test. And in the eyes of the world 
and presence of God they had to decide. I am inclined 
to think they could not have decided differently without 
doing violence to the authority of conscience.. .Men in- 
tended for the Foreign ^ilission Field ought to possess 
a grade of piety beyond that of an ordinary pastor. It is 
important work. God and the world demand nuich of 
them. Though many of the primitive Christians were 
slaveholders, there is no authority to say that the Savior 
or any of the apostles were. A majority of Southern 
Baptists allow that slavery is in some sense an evil. If 
an evil in any sense, we should not be instrumental in 
sending it abroad. Even if you form a Southern Baptist 
Convention, would you not prefer a non-slaveholder as 
"^Religious Herald, April 10, 1845. 

Foreign Mission Board. 7^ 

a missionary? And if so, would not the Board of the 
Triennial Convention readily appoint a Southern man?"-"^ 

Dr. Wm. F. Broaddus writing from V^ersailles, Ken- 
tucky,, on April 9th, opposes separation. The Board did 
transcend its authority in presuming to settle what the 
Convention had agreed not even to agitate. The South, 
however, should not withdraw until they see whether the 
Convention sanctions the ground taken by the Board. It 
would be discourteous to assume that the Northern 
brethren who have assured the South that they were will- 
ing to leave the question of slavery to every one's con- 
science, would en masse sanction the course of the Board. 

"The peculiar character of our Church government 
(independent), makes it especially desirable that we 
should continue a union with our brethren throughout 
the United States in the ^lission cause. Indeed, I have 
long looked to our denomination to exert a powerful in- 
fluence in preserving the political union of this highlr 
favored nation. Some other denominations seem likely 
by their division, to hinder, rather than aid the cause of 
national union. Governed as they are by national eccle- 
siastical organizations, when such a question as that of 
slaverv gets among them, all within certain geographical 
limits, must in the nature of the case be ruled into acqui- 
escence with the sentiments of the majority, or forfeit 
their church privileges. Not so with us." He much 
prefers to wait for the Triennial Convention.-^ ; 

-' Religious Herald, April 17, 1845. 
-^Religious Herald, May i, 1845. 



Appeals based on the good of the denomination, on 
consideration for Northern friends, on desire to thwart 
the aboHtionists, on danger to the poHtical union, availed 
not. Steps towards separation based on sectional lines 
went on. The men in the North who believed slavery a 
sin, but a sin that the Soutli alone must answer for, could 

' no longer control the men, who, considering slavery a 
sin, would have nothing to do wath slaveholders or with 
societies that accepted the profits of slavery. The South 
was unwilling to work longer in societies where slave- 
holders were called sinners above their neighbors and 
"reviled as pirates and thieves." Neither North nor 
South had convinced the other by denunciation or argu- 
ment. During 1844 had occurred the famous controversy 
between Wayland and Fuller carried on in the most cour- 
teous and Christian spirit. This discussion began by a 
letter of Dr. Fuller to the Christian Reflector in reply 
to certain anti-slavery utterances which had appeared in 
that paper. Fuller sought to justify his position by state- 
ments in ^^^ayland's Blcmcnts of Moral Science} The 
resulting correspondence was published in both northern 
and southern papers. The South was not convinced that 
Dr. Wayland had proved that slavery was prohibited in 
Old or New Testament. If this was the best the North 
could do, then it could not make out a case for declaring 
non-fellowship with slaveholders. Wayland had not de- 

V creased the growing sensitiveness of the South ; nor had 
Fuller lessened the increasing excitement at the North. 

^Newman: Baptist Churches, p. 443; Cuthbert: Life of 
Richard Puller, Chap. 18. 


Separation. 73 

The result of the discussion was to make each side more 
strongly of "the same opinion still" rather than to pro- 
duce any change in their views. The South was more 
unanimous in accepting Dr. Fuller as their champion than 
the North in accepting Dr. Wayland. This was but nat- 
ural, since Dr. Wayland, while commending the "cour- 
tesy, Christian urbanity and calmness under provocation" 
which in a remarkable degree characterized the conduct 
of the southern members of the Philadelphia convention, 
had called the tone of the abolitionists "fierce, bitter and 
abusive." He held that their press had "too commonly 
indulged in exaggerated statements, violent denuncia- 
tions, coarse and lacerating invective."- 

The men in the non-slaveholding states who had pre- 
ferred to fellowship the slaveholders of the South rather 
than the abolitionists at the North could after 1844 no 
longer have their choice. They must work with the 

The Augusta Correspondent of the Charlestozvn Mer- 
cury of May 7th, in writing of the approaching conven- 
tion, has the following, "If there is one hope left of pre- 
serving the union of the Baptist churches, which we hope 
there is, no doubt they will avail themselves of it. They 
can not be rash or fanatical. They love the church too 
much ; thev love the political union too much ; the state, 
the government with all its glorious associations. They 
know too well how deep an impression these religious 
divisions make. They know how little is to be expected 
from any other union, if the union of Christians fail. The 
odium of a ruptured church and state will not be with 
them. All the fearful responsibility will be thrown upon 

'In 1845 Rev C. P. Grosvenor prepared a review of the 
correspondence of Messrs. Fuller and Wayland which was later 
published at the request of the American Baptist Foreign Mis- 
sionary Society. This was a defence of the abolitionists from the 
criticisms of both Wayland and Fuller. 

74 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-4J. 

the North, and the future historian as he contemplates 
the ruin, will marvel at the infatuation which could tear 
down so fair a fabric."-' 

On ^lay 8, i8-]5, an enthusiastic body of delegates 
from Maryland, A'irginia, North and South Carolina, 
Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Kentucky, numbering 
three hundred seventy-seven, met in Augusta. Georgia. 
Dr. W. E. Johnson of South Carolina became president 
and Hon. W. Lumpkin of Georgia, and Dr. J. B. Taylor 
of Mrginia. vice-presidents."^ 

^lessrs. Jeter and Taylor of A^irginia, and Campbell 
of Georgia, having just returned from the meeting of the 
General Board of the Triennial Convention in Provi- 
dence, expressed their belief that the decision of the 
Acting Board would be sustained, was already virtually 
sustained by the General Board. A committee was ap- 
pointed to draw up a preamble and resolutions in relation 
to the purpose of the Convention. Dr. Richard Fuller 
was made chairman, and tlie other members were ]\I. T. 
INIendenhall, South Carolina ; J. A. ]\IcKean and W. 
Crane, Maryland ; T. W. Snyder, District of Columbia ; 
J. B. Jeter and T. Hume, A'irginia ; R. McNabb, North 
Carolina; Pj. ^L Sanders and C. D. ]\Iallary, Georgia; A. 
Tavis and Gen. E. D. King, Alabama ; Isaac T. Hinton 
and R. Holman, Louisiana ; Isaac McCoy, Kentucky. 

On May (), the following report of the committee was 
unanimouslv adopted ; — "The committee to whom it has 
been referred to report a preamble and resolutions can 
not but express their profound sense of the responsibility 
resting upon your body at the present eventful crisis, as 
the integrity of the nation, the interests of truth, the 
sacred enterprise of converting the heathen, are all in- 
volved in your deliberations. That this convention was 

'68 Niles. 187. 

''Riley: The Baptists, p. 210; Baptist Miss. Magazine, 25:246. 

Separation. 75 

imperiously demanded must be apparent to all. The 
Boston Board have in their reply to the Alabama resolu- 
tions most clearly and unnecessarily exceeded their pow- 
ers and violated their trust. It is a question admitting 
no debate that the Triennial Convention was formed on 
the principle of perfect equality of members from the 
south and north. And, what is all-important, the very 
qualiiications of missionaries are prescribed by the orig- 
inal constitution of that Convention — the fifth article 
providing that such persons as are in full communion 
with some regular church of our denomination, and who 
furnish satisfactory evidence of genuine piety, good tal- 
ents, and fervent zeal for the Redeemer's cause, are to 
be employed as missionaries. 

Besides this, too, the declaration of the Board that 
'if any one should ofter himself as a missionary, having 
slaves and should insist on retaining them as his property, 
we could not appoint him,' is an innovation and depart- 
ure from the course hitherto pursued by the Triennial 
Convention, such persons having- been appointed ; and 
lastly, the decision of the Board is an infraction of the 
resolution passed the last spring in Philadelphia, and the 
general board at their late meeting in Providence has 
failed to reverse the decision. 

Amid such circumstances, your committee esteem it 
absolutely necessary that the friends of the constitution 
of the Triennial Convention, and the lovers of the Bible, 
shall at once take their stand, and assert the great catholic 
principles of their constitution and of the word of God. 
Your committee, therefore, submit the following resolu- 
tion as embodying all that they are now prepared to sug- 
gest to your body."^' 

Resolved, That for peace and harmony and in order 
to accomplish the greatest amount of g"ood, and for the 

568 Niles 188. 


76 The Baptists and Shz-ery 1840-4^. 

maintenance of those scriptural principles on which the 
general missionary convention of the Baptist denomina- 
tion of the United States, was originally formed, it is 
proper that this convention at once proceed to organize 
a society for the propagation of the gospel." 

An animated debate followed. Dr. Jeter said he had 
been a conser\^ative, so much so, indeed, as to be con- 
sidered by some of his friends as leaning to the North. 
He was now in favor of a separate organization, and 
the more he reflected on the subject the difficulties which 
at first presented themselves to his mind vanished, and he 
believed the cause of God would be promoted thereby. 
Tn the course of his remarks he read an abstract from 
a letter of Dr. Wayland to himself. "You will separate, 
of course, I could not ask otherwise. Your rights have 
been infringed. I will take the liberty of offering one 
or two suggestions. We have shown how Chris-tians 
ought not to act, and it remains for you to show us how 
they oiioht to act. Put away all violence, act with dig- 
nity, and firmness, and the world will approve your 

]\Ir. Fuller explained the eft'ect of the division. "It 
did not divide the Baptist Church ; that could not be sep- 
arated ; it was independent and republican, having no 
general head, and only associated for a general purpose. 
It was this association which was proposed to be sev- 

There was some question whether the claim that re- 
fusal to appoint a slaveholder was an innovation and de- 
parture from the course hitherto pursued by the Trien- 
nial Convention, such persons having been appointed, 
could be sustained. In the case of Jesse Bushyhead, the 
fact that he was a slaveholder at the time of his appoint- 
ment, was probably not known to the Board. In the case 
of Brother Rennoldson, Brother Cone's statement at the 

Separation. 77 

annual meeting of the Board that he was a slaveholder 
at the time of appointment and known to be by the Board, 
was confirmed by Elder H. Posey (Georgia) and Elder 
Hinton (New Orleans). 

On May loth a constitution was presented. The title 
of the new organization was the Southern Baptist Con- 
vention ; the object, to promote Foreign and Domestic 
Missions, .''and to combine for this purpose such por- 
tions of the Baptist denomination in the United States as 
mav desire a general organization for Christian benevo- 
lence that shall fully respect the independence and equal 
rights of the churches.'' . . . 

The management by Boards ''shall be in strict accord- 
ance with the constitutional provisions adopted by the 
Convention, and such other instructions as may be given 
from time to time." The constitution was copied after 
the constitution of the General Convention but with 
greater concentration. The boards established were 
simplv committees annually chosen, and the one conven- 
tion united the work previously done by the General Con- 
vention and the Home Mission Society. Richmond, Vir- 
ginia, was selected for the location of the Foreign Board, 
and IMarion, Alabama, for the Domestic Board. A res- 
olution for separation from the Publication Society was 
tabled. Dr. Curtis, Dr. W. B. Johnson, Dr. Fuller and 
Elder Mallary were made a committee to prepare an ad- 
dress to the Baptist denomination in justification of the 
stand taken. 

On Monday, May 12, all other important questions 
were unanimously decided. It was held that separation 
was necessar}', politic and just, since the South had been 
treated with injustice and its rights infringed. The edi- 
tor of the Religions Herald says, only kindly feelings 
were expressed towards Northern brethren. We hope 
"henceforth the onlv strife between North and South 

78 The Baptists and Slarcry 1840-4=,. 

will be \Yhich shall do most toward promoting the inter- 
ests of the Redeemer's Kingdom and the salvation of 
their fellowmen/' 

The Board of Domestic ^Missions was instructed to 
take all prudent measures for the religious instruction of 
the colored population. 

It was voted that "the Foreign Mission Board of this 
Convention be instructed to communicate with the acting 
board of the Baptist IViennial Convention in reference 
to any claim we may have upon the Convention, or any 
claim which that body may have or think they have upon 
us, and that the said Board report fully to this Convention 
at its next meeting." The Foreign Mission Board was 
authorized "to enter into any equitable and prudent ar- 
rangement with the acting Pioard of the Triennial Con- 
vention, to take a portion of its missions under the pat- 
ronage of the Southern Convention."*^ 

At the close of the Convention appeared the address 
— "To their brethren in the United States, to the Con- 
gregations connected with the respective Churches, and 
to all Candid Men," which would explain "the origin, 
principles and objects of the division," in the missionary 
operations of the American Baptists. This disunion in- 
volves only the Foreign and Domestic Missions. North- 
ern and Southern Baptists are still brethren, they differ 
as to no articles of faith. 

I. The history of the General Convention is reviewed 
and the constitutional provision as to qualifications of 
missionaries given. "An evil hour arrived. Slavery and 
anti-slavery men began to draw off on different sides in 
the last two Triennial Conventions." The nobler spirits 
on both sides endeavored to meet this. The resolution of 
184^1. is quoted. Within a few months the Acting Board 
adopted a rule making a new qualification for appoint- 

"^ Religious Herald, May 22, 1845. 



ment. Tt placed itself in direct opposition to the Conven- 
tion Several of the churches hoped that by he las 
annual n.eeting at Providence, the Acting Board vvould 
be brought to see the grievous wrong they had mflicted. 
• The Llauaging Board was affectionately and respect- 
fully addressed on the subject and was entreated to revise 
ad reverse the obnoxious interdict. Alas! the results 
were contemptuous silence as to the applications made 
and a deliberate resolve, expressing sympathy with the 
Acting' Board and a determination to aid them. 

II The principles of the Southern Baptist Conven- 
tion are conservative, also eciuitable and liberal. We pro- 
pose "to do the Lord's work in the ways our father did 
•f The constitution is precisely that of the original 
union. "We use the very terms as we uphold the true 
spirit and great object of the late 'Genera Coiwention 
of the Baptist Denomination of the United States, it 
is thev who wrong us who have receded. ' 

in •■Our objects then are the extension of die 
Messiah's kingdom and the glory of our God ^ot dis- 
un on with any of His people, nor the uphoWing of any 
fom of human policy or civil rights." ."'With the so s 
of Ethopia among us stretching forth their hands of up- 
p ica ion for the Gospel, to God and all His people, we 
£e 'shaken ourselves from the nightmare of a six year^ 
strife about words to no profit' for die ?-« of tl ese 
poor perishing and precious souls. . . . ^ii par "» 
Tith beloved brethren and old co-adjutors in this cause 
;e could weep, and have wept for ourselves and f^r 
them- but the season as well of weeping as of vain 
anting, is, we are constrained to believe, just now past. 
For vears, the pressure of men's hands had been upon 

„s far too heavily. Our '-th- '^^ J^ .^^iTw^s 
inch of our privileges and our sacrea rif,ncs, ui 
shall only urge our gushing souls to yield proportionate- 

8o The Baptists and Slavery 1S40-J.J. 

ly in their renewed efforts to the Lord, to the Church 
Universal, and to the dying world ; even as water pressed 
from ^^■ithont rises but the more within." Even the 
'passing calamity of division' may work to the glory of 
God and the good of the world."' 

On ]\[ay first at Providence was held the meeting- of 
the American Baptist Board of Foreign Alissions. They 
adopted the following report from a committee on the 
Alabama inquiries and the reply of the Acting Board : — 
"The committee to whom was referred the correspond- 
ence between the Alabama State Convention and the Act- 
ing Board report their views. 

I. The spirit of the constitution of the General Con- 
vention, as well as the history of its proceedings from the 
beginning, render it apparent that all the members of 
the Baptist Denomination in good standing, whether at 
the Xorth or the South are constitutionally eligible to 
all appointments emanating from either the Convention 
or the Board. 

II. \\'hile this is the case, it is possible that contin- 
gencies may arise in which the carrying out of this prin- 
ciple might create the necessity of making appointments 
by which the brethren of the North would, either in fact 
or in the opinion of the Christian community, become 
responsible for institutions which they could not, with a 
good conscience sanction. 

III. Were such a case to occur, we could not desire 
one brethren to violate their convictions of duty, by 
making such appointments,, but should consider it in- 
cumbent on them to refer the case to the Convention for 
its decision. All which is respectfully submitted in be- 
half of the committee. 

i'. W'ayt.axd, Chairman. 

'Religious Herald, Ma,, "^45; Liberator, May 30, 1845; 

Xewman : Bapist Churches, 450-,^, Baptist Missionary Magazine, 
25:150; Religious Herald. W^xy 8, 1845. 

Separation. 8i 

Resolved, That we sincerely and deeply sympathize 
with our brethren of the Acting Board charged with the 
interests of the Missions during the recess of the Con- 
vention, in the responsibilities they sustain and the diffi- 
culties with which they are surrounded, and we now 
pledge to them our cordial co-operation and liberal sup- 

On Friday, the acting Board was instructed ''if in 
their judgment the circumstances should require, to call 
a special meeting of the General Board at such time and 
place as they would judge expedient."^ 

A special meeting of the American Baptist Board of 
Foreign Missions was held in Philadelphia on Septem- 
ber 24, on the call of the iVcting Board. There were two 
questions before them : First — Whether certain missions. 
now under the patronage of the General Convention shall 
be transferred to the Foreign IMission Board of the 
Southern Baptist Convention agreeably to the request of 
said Board, and if so, on what conditions. 

Second — What reply shall be made to the inquiry of 
said Board touching any claim which the Southern Bap- 
tist Convention may have or suppose they have on the 
General Convention, or which the General Convention 
may have or suppose they have on the Southern Baptist 

There was amicable discussion on this first question, 
it being agreed that each party — the missionaries and the 
two Boards — must concur in any transfer. The matter 
was referred to a committee consisting of Messrs. Way- 
land, J. M. Peck, Somers, Jeter and S. Peck. 

The committee on claims on funds and property of 
the Triennial Convention wrv? Messrs. A. Bennett, G. S. 
Webb, A. Day, G. Colby and B. Sears. 

^ Bapiist Misisonarv Magaz ..-, 25:iso-i^6; Religious Herald, 
May 8, 1845. 

82 Tlie Baptists and Slavery 1840-4J. 

A committee on a special session of the Convention 
consisted of Alessrs. vStow, Chase, Ide, \A^elch, \A'. R. 
AA'iUiams. Cone and W'ayland. 

At the evening session the committee on Transfer of 
Missions reported that no change could be made without 
the full consent of the missionaries, hence authoritative 
action on the part of the Board was impossible. The 
missionaries should have the choice of associations with 
which they should be connected. If any prefer to change 
relations to the Southern Baptist Board, "they should in 
the spirit of fraternal regard be allowed every facility 
of so doing." 

The Committee on Claims held it "inexpedient either 
for the General Convention or for those who may have 
retired from it, to make any claims the one upon the 
other, respecting the property of the General Association 
on the one hand or the payment of its present debt upon 
the other." It was desired to avoid new questions pos- 
sibly leading to new misunderstanding. Dr. Jeter knew 
of no reason why this mode of adjustment should not 
be satisfactorv to the Southern Convention. The report 
was unanimously adopted. 

On the next day, there was discussion of the state of 
the missions, financial management, and expediency and 
time of a special session of the Convention. It was 
agreed that "in view of the recent missionary organiza- 
tion at the South, and the new relations thence arising : 
also in view of the imperfections in the provisions" of 
the present constitution, a special session of the Conven- 
tion should be called by the President for the third ^^'ed- 
nesday in November. 

The evening session was occupied in receiving the 
resignations of ^Messrs. Jeter, Ball and Hinton who join- 
ed the Southern Convention. This was a most painful 
occasion to men who had worked together for years. 

Separation. §3 

Some preliminary arrangements were made for the spe- 
cial session of the General Convention, and a committee 
appointed to report on alterations in constitution and 

Dr. Jeter wrote after the meeting that he was sure 
the financial plans would meet the approval of the South.^' 
The property and stocks about equaled the debt. There 
was a permanent fund of $20,000, some western lands of 
uncertain value, some printing presses, etc. The debt 
was about $40,000. The South sent missionaries to 
China, and Rev. Louis J. Shuck and Rev. I. J. Roberts 
at Canton withdrew to the Southern Convention.^^ 

The special meeting of the General Convention as- 
sembled in New York on November 19. President Way- 
land presided, and in the absence of the Secretary, Rev. 
James B. Tavlor of Virginia, the assistant secretary. Rev. 
R. H. Neal, acted. The Secretary of the Board of Alan- 
agers, read the resolutions of that Board authorizing the 
call for a special meeting and setting forth its purposes. 
The president read the circular which had been sent to the 
members of the Convention. Delegates were present 
from all the New England States, from New York, New 
Jersey and Indiana, with one each from Delaware, Alary- 
land.' Kentucky and the District of Columbia. Bodies 
entitled to a certain number of delegates in 1844 were 
to have the same number at this meeting. 

C)n Thursdav, November 20th, the consideration of a 
new constitution was taken up. A committee of five was 
appointed to consider and report on the legal questions 
involved in the proposed change of our :Missionary or- 
ganization." Another committee was to inform the trus- 
tees of Columbian College of the contemplated change m 
the organization of the Triennial Convention, that they 
^Religious Herald, Oct. 2, 1845; Baptist Miss. Mag. 25:295. 
Cone, Cone, 309. 

" Relic/ions Herald, Oct. 2, 1845. 

"Newman- Century of Baptist Achievement, p. 184. 

84 The Baptists and Slaz-cry 1840-4^. 

might make such other provisions as they might think 
proper for the future election of the trustees of said 

The new constitution of the American Baptist ]\Iis- 
sionary Union was adopted, and all members of the late 
Baptist General Convention, present at the time of the 
adoption of this constitution, were to be life members. 
Others might become such by payment at one time of not 
less than $100. 

The committee on Legal Questions reported that the 
General Convention could neither in law nor equity be 
dissolved until the existing debt of $40,000 had been can- 
celled or payment secured. As the members of the Con- 
vention had by courtesy voted themselves life members 
of the union, it was thought only just and proper for them 
to volunteer to raise Sioo each for the debt. This was 

The Acting I'oard was instructed to secure the neces- 
sary act from the Pennsylvania legislature, changing the 
name of the organization and securing the rights, privi- 
leges and property belonging to the general convention; 
also an act from the legislature of ^Massachusetts, incor- 
porating the American Baptist Missionary Union. Vvlien 
this had been done, the General Convention, at an ad- 
journed meeting in May, 1846, would transfer books, 
property rights and duties to the American Baptist Mis- 
sionary Union. 

The Convention seems to have devoted itself to the 
necessary business and resisted all efforts to commit the 
new organization on slavery or to discuss what had taken 
place. ^- A motion to add to the qualification of officers 
"and not slaveholders" was lost. The same qualification 
for membership was j)roposed but failed.^" Dr. Cone in 
explaining the constitution said, "They did not want a 

'^'Baptist Missionary Magazine, 26:1-11. 

" Goodell : Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 504. 

Separation. 85 

missionary convention to be divided either by Mason and 
Dixon's line or any other line; and under the proposed 
constitution, no extraneous question of slavery or anti- 
slaver^- or temperance or anything else, apart from the 
one great question for which they were organized," en- 
tered. Any member could pursue his private predilec; 
tions as he listed, but he could not bring them forward in 
the American Baptist Union for Foreign Missions/^ 

Dr. Colver of Boston explained his position on slavery 
and missions :— ''He was an aboHtionist and he supposed 
that he need not inform those who heard him of that 
fact. But he supposed his position might have been mis- 
apprehended. Abolitionist as he w^as, and deeply as he 
might svmpathize Avith w^ronged and heathenized slaves 
of our country, yet his sympathies were alike called out 
by the degraded and perishing heathen abroad. He had 
never seen the time for a moment when the cause of 
anti-slavery was by him preferred before the cause of 
missions, nor had he ever desired to see the foreign mis- 
sion engine diverted from its legitimate object into an 
anti-slaverv engine. But the trouble was that slavery 
had thrust itself into the missionary engine and impeded 
its progress, and he had labored to get it out—a.t least 
this was his view of the subject; if he had been mistaken, 
it had been his misfortune. But the case was different 
now. They had got rid of slavery, and now, free from 
that disturbing element, he saw nothing to hinder them 
from harmoniously w^orking in the cause of missions."^"^ 

A communication from the American Baptist Free 
Mission Society, on the subject of slavery was laid on the 
table. This society had decided a few months earlier to 
continue to support their organization until the old mis- 
sionary societies w^ere actually free from pro-slavery 
members.i^ After this meeting of the convention, the 

^'Religious Herald, Nov. 27, 1845. 

^'Baptist Record, Dec. 3, 1845. 

^''Religious Herald, j\lay 29, 1845. 


86 The Baptists and Slarevy 1840-43. 

Free Missionary Society expressed their dissatisfaction 
with the new constitution, and their determination to ad- 
here to their own organization. They could not counte- 
nance a society in which "any person of whatever senti- 
ments, whether he be Unitarian, Universalist. Infidel or 
Atheist, or whatever be his personal characteristics, slave- 
holder, drunkard, .libertine or if combining all in one, 
may l^ecome and forever continue a member by the pay- 
ment of one hundred dollars/' 

A resolution in the Convention, in commendation of 
the Acting Board was opposed as ill-timed by ^Messrs. 
J. ^I. Peck, Turnball, Cone, Stov/ and Xeal and was 

A resolution, "That in the secessio*n of Southern Bap- 
tists from the Baptist Triennial Convention, we recog- 
nize a division between free and slaveholding missions, 
which we wish on the grounds of Christian principle to 
remain perpetual as to the American Baptist ^lissionary 
Union," was lost. 

The adjourned meeting of the Baptist General Con- 
vention was held in Brooklyn, ]\Iay 19, 1846. The Act- 
ing Board reported the necessary enactments made.^^ 
All right, title and interest in Columbian College was 
transferred to Columbian College. ^^ Officers of the Un- 
ion and of the Board were elected and the next meeting 
of the Union and Board was set for ^lay, 1847, at Cin- 

The separation was thus complete as far as Foreign 
and Domestic Missions were concerned. 

The American and Foreign Bible Society had been 
able to maintain the position stated in its communication 
to the Alabama Convention, "In the midst of the changes, 

'''Religious Herald, Dec. 18, 1845. 
^"Baptist Maga::ine, 26:161. 
'■' Ibid., 26 •.2ig. 

'"Bahlisf Record of Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 1845 contains ac- 
counts of the convention. 

Separation. 87 

which have occurred and are perhaps to be anticipated in 
other organizations for religious and evangelical benev- 
olence, it is the determined purpose of the ^Managers of 
the American and Foreign Bible Society to keep their 
original platform, — to welcome all, who approve the fun- 
damental principle of our organization as our co-adjutors 
on terms of perfect equality."-^ 

There was some discussion of the need of a separate 
publication society because many Southerners had lost 
confidence in all Northern Boards.-- The idea of en- 
couraging Southern enterprise and issuing Southern 
books and tracts to be used from the Delaware to the 
Rio Del Xorte was presented. There w-as a natural fear 
of the difficulty of meeting peacefully the same men who 
had declared them "unfit to carry the gospel to the heath- 
en." If money and counsels could not be mingled in the 
two societies could they in the third and fourth? If the 
anti-slavery men did not press the slavery question in the 
Bible and Publication Societies they would be inconsist- 
ent, if they did, there would be further division. 

The Publication Society was not divided, but it dis- 
continued its organ, the Baptist Record. It was deter- 
mined to maintain its neutral position regarding slavery. 
If it was connected with a weekly newspaper which must 
chronicle among other passing events the movements on 
this subject, it would, in spite of all efforts to be impar- 
tial, be liable to incur the charge of leaning to the one 
side or the other, and thus harm the society.-" 

The Baptist Anti-Slavery Society and its organ, the 
Provincial Committee, were dissolved, since the object 
for which they w^ere organized had been secured by the 
action of the Boston Iloard and the formation of other 

-^ Religious Herald August 7, 1845. 
"Ibid.. September 11, 1845. 

■"Religious Herald, vSept. 4, 184;, Baptist Record, Nov. 26, 

'-'■Religious Herald, May 29, 1845. 



An interesting notice of the division in the ]\Iethodist 
and Baptist Churches is found in the Charleston Mercury 
in May, 1845. "T^'he two greatest religious sects in the 
United States sever a union that was thought to be se- 
cured by indissoluble ties — protected alike by wdiatever 
is most intimate in the social charities of life, most deep- 
rooted in the prejudices and most sacred in the aspira- 
tions of the human heart — and that separation too, mark- 
ing the precise line between the slaveholding and the free 
states and growing out of the acknowledged impossibility 
of the two people acting peaceably together — and this 
startling event, pregnant with momentous consequences 
is allude to with as much indifference as a change of the 

wind or of the deputy postmaster of a country town 

In this contest of religion we have an entire and remedi- 
less severance of the Union — a division that henceforth 
creates in the two most numerous denominations of the 
•country a Northern and a Southern religion and this sep- 
aration brought about by no accident, no heat of the mo- 
ment, but after much deliberation and unwearied eft'orts 
to reconcile the dissention — eft'orts that yielded only to a 
settled conviction that reconciliation was impossible."^ 

It would be natural in closing this study of the divis- 
ion of this great religious denomination, to consider the 
eft'ect on the church itself, on the movement for the 
emancipation of the slaves or against further extension 
of slavenf, and on the political union of the states com- 
posing the North and South. 

As far as the benevolent work of tlie Church was con- 

' 68 Niles 188. 

Conclusion. ^9 

cerned increased efforts seem to have been put forth by 
both North and vSouth, and contributions for missionary 
purposes were greater than before/^ The men who had 
devoted so much time and thought to preventmg strife 
or to fomenting it during the previous ten years, should 
have had more energv for other work in the denomma- 
tion The pleasure of abusing abohtiomsts on one side 
and slaveholders on the other,, must have decreased when 
.hooting must be at such long range. Friendly inter- 
course did not cease although at times carried on under 
difficulties ' That the division was attended with so little 
bitterness was doubtless largely due to the fact that the 
leaders on both sides were Christians and gentlemen/ 
The absence of any Central governing body m the Bap- 
tist Church made division easier than in some denomina- 
tions/" It was also very fortunate that no financial con- 
troversies arose. 

^Durinff the first thirteen years of the existence of the Home 
Mission B^o-ard of the Southern Convention, ^bout seven tune 
as much was contributed for this purpose as the same ch^^rches 
had given through the American Baptist Home Mission So ety 
during the preceding thirteen years. Newman: Baptist Chiu dies, 
p 455; Newman: Century of Baptist Aehievement V^ 18+ 

Mn 1846 Dr Fuller was invited to preach at Madison Uni- 
versity HamilTon, New York, but was later advised not to come 
beca se of the abolition excitement and objection in he village of 
the South Carolina preacher. Fuller replied that they eviden ly 
needed the gospel. He went, preached and won all by his great 
charm. Cuthbert : Fu//^r, p. I34- ^ • ..r 1 ^ \\r "R Tnhn- 
^ Such were Richard Fuller Francis ^^f^^^^^' W_ B^ M^ 
son, Spencer H. Cone, Jeremiah B. Jeter, John M. Peck, Wm 
Col-ate Tames B. Taylor, Baron Stow, Barnas Sears, Basil 
MaSh G orge B. Ide, John L. Dagg and. Dame Sharp. 

"The editor of the Niles' Register v. ntmg^t the time of the 
<?eoaration said' 'If we mistake not the Baptist Church. .... .is 

o'ogani^^^^^^^^^^ allow of divisions. .. .without -y -ry -nou 

disruStion of their general church harmony. As a body of behev 
e s he e is alng^ great variety of doctrines and opinion 

which the members or churches consider t^^n^'i^Pir oum m nd^^^^ 
tain according to the light and convictions of their oun minds. 

69 Niles 139- 


90 The Baptists and Slaiery i8^o-4j. 

Lyell in his Second Visit considers the effect of the 
''north and south spHt" unfortunate in its eft'ects on both 
masters and slaves. For the sake of ''renouncing- brother- 
hood with slave owners, the Xorthern churches have re- 
pudiated all communion with the great bodv of their 
negro fellow Christians." Before this, the slave "who 
joined the Methodist or Baptist Church, could feel that 
he was one of a powerful association of Christians," num- 
bering brethren in northern as well as southern states.'' 
I am not sure how much the "humblest slave" knew of 
great associations of Christians. As far as religious care 
of the slaves was concerned the southern churches seem 
to have felt added responsibilit}- since they did not desire 
outside help. The Alabama Convention in 1846 pledged its 
ministers and members to the use of ''all reas- 
onable diligence in their power, to improve the 
moral and religious condition of the slaves within 
their congregations and families" and to recom- 
mend the same subject to ministers and Christians 
throughout the entire South." The following year 
a report on Religious Instruction of the coloured 
people recognizes that the responsibility rests with South- 
ern Christians.- The same body in 1849 received a re- 
port on this subject. A brief quotation is of interest. 
"Differences of opinion in relation to them (the coloured 
people) and their position have rent asunder two of the 
largest denominations of Christians in the United States, 
a catastrophe from which other denominations have es- 
caped onlv by their strength lying mainly either at the 
South or Xorth, so as to afford an overwhelming major- 
ity on one side or the other. For many years past this 
race has been a source of contentions so momentous as 

"Lyell, Second I'isH, i, p. 270. 

'Alabama Baptist State Convention, Minnies, 1846. 

'Alabama Baptist State Convention, Minutes, 1847. 


Conclusion. 9^ 

to jar the verv pillars of the constitution; and now 
whether we will or not, the blaek question mmgles itself 
with every movement of public policy, with all our for- 
eion relations, with our state governments, and our do- 
mestic arrangements. It enters our halls o legislatures 
our churches, our houses and interlocks itself with all 
our interests " Christians must ask. Lord on such sub- 
iect what wilt Thou have me do' The Bible does enjoin 
duties toward the coloured people. There is no longer 
anv need' of arguing with the North, which gives abuse 
for argument, ^insult for persuasion, stones for bread. 
Thev themselves desire "to think right and act righ . 
.\ committee was recommended to award a prize tor the ^ 
best treatise on "Duties of Christian Masters to their 
Servants." Private subscriptions were to raise a pre- 
mium of two hundred dollars." 

It is not probable that the separation tended to con- 
vert the southerners to anti-slavery views but the dis- 
cussions before the division had not had that eftec . 
Doubtless many people in the North realized the strength 
of both anti-slaverv and pro-slavery sentiment as never 
before The breakup of the churches joined with many 
other causes in making people think about slavery, which 
was often all that was needed to make them oppose it. 

There is a temptation to apply the post hoc ergo 
hroMer hoc to the relation between the division m the 
Churches and in the nation. The Baptists who discussed 
separation in the years from 1840 to 1846 were impressed 
with its importance in national as well as church life. 
They repeatedly affirmed that one of the strongest bonds 
of the political' union would be broken when there were 
» 4lnhn„in BaHist Stale Convention, Minutes, Nov. 3. i849. 

Baptist State Convention, 1848. 

92 TJie Baptists and Slavery 1840-4^. 

Northern and Southern churches. And yet many of the 
leaders admitted that an antagonism had grown up which 
rendered working" together in peace no longer possible. 
Fortunately the Baptists were able to part in compara- 
tive peace; and while there were no longer national so- 
cieties to serve as a bond of union for them and to some 
extent for the nation, the separation may have decreased 
occasions of friction and delayed rather than hastened 
national disunion. However, an attempt to discover the 
influence of the division of American Baptists upon the 
history of the United States lies beyond the field of this 


Primary Matf,riai.: 

American Anti-Slavery Almanac, 1838. 

Anti-Slavery Tract No. 7, Revolution the only rem- 
edy for slavery. 

Alabama Baptist State Convention, Minutes, 1847, 
1848, 1849. 

Birney, James G. : American Churches, the buki'arks 
of American slavery, 1842. 

The Baptist Record, 1839, 1843, 1845, Philadelphia. 

The Baptist Missionary Maga/:ine, published by the 
Board of Managers of the Baptist General Con- 
vention, 1841, 1844, 1845, Boston. 
Charleston, S. C, Baptist Association, Minutes, 1822, 

1^35' ^^39' 1840. 

Cartwright, Peter: The Backzvoods Preacher, Anto- 
bio{raphy of Peter Cartzcright, London, 1858. 

Chapman,' Maria: Right and Wrong in Massachus- 
etts, 1830. 

Coffin, Levi: Reminiscences, 1880. 

Christy, David : Pulpit politics; or Ecclesiastical legis- 
lation on slavery in its disturbing influence on the 
American Union. Cincinnati, 1862. 

Edisto, S. C, Baptist Association, Minutes, 1840, 

Fuller, Richard and Wayland, Francis: Domestic 
Slavery considered as a Scriptural Institution in a 
correspondence between the Rev. Richard Puller 
of Beaufort, S. C, and the Rev. Francis Wayland 
of Providence, R. L, New York, i860. 

Foss, A. F., and Matthews, E. : Facts for Baptist 
Churches, Published by the American Baptist Free 
Mission Society, Utica, 1850. 

94 The Baptists and Slarery 1840-4^. 

Fiinnan, Rev. Dr. Richard : B.vposition of the J'^iews 
of the Baptists relatize to the Coloured Popula- 
tion in t/'.e United States. Charleston, 1822; 2nd 
edition, 1833. 

Goodell, WilHam : Slazery and .-Inti-SlaTery, Xew 
York, 1852. 

Georgia Baptist State Convention, Minutes, 1846. 

Grosvenor, C. P. : A Rez'iew of the Correspondence 
of Messrs. Fuller and JVa\'land, Utica, X. Y., 


Illinois Baptist Pastoral Union, Anniversary, i860. 

Jay, William : Miscellaneous Writings on Slavery, 
Boston, 1853. 

Lyell, Sir Charles: A second visit to the United 
States of Xorth America, 2v, London, 1849. 

Tlie Liberator, 1842-1845, Boston. 

May, Samuel J.: Some Recollections of the Anti- 
Slavery Conflict, Boston, 1869. 

NUes' Register, 183 5- 1846, Baltimore. 

The North-Western Baptist, 1844, Chicago. 

Pillsbury, Parker: Acts of the Anti-Slaz'er\ Apos- 
^ ties,' CowQOvd, X. H., 1883. 

Pillsbury, Parker: The. Church as it is; or the for- 
lorn hope of slaz'crx, 2nd ed.. Concord, X^. H., 


Rhode Island Ajiti-Siavery Convention : Proveedings, 

February, 1836. 
The Religious Herald, 1841-46, Richmond. 
Ready River, S. C, Baptist Association, Minutes, 

Saz'annah River, Ga., Baptist Association, Minutes, 

1835, 1841, T844. 
South Carolina Baptist State Convention, Minutes, 

1840, 1844. 

Bibliography. 95 

String-fellow, Thornton: A Brief Examination of 
Scripture Testimony on the Institution of Slavery; 
an essay first published in the Religious Herald 
zcitli remarks on a letter of Elder Galusha to Dr. 
R. fuller of South Carolina, 1841. 

Tyger River, S. C, Baptist /Association: Minutes, 

Wayland, Francis: Limitations of Human Responsi- 
bility, Boston, 1838. 
Wayland, Francis : Manuscript Letter to Rev. E. B. 

Willey, Austin : The History of the Anti-Slavery 
Cause in State and Nation, Portland, ]\Ie., 1886. 

The Watchman, February 11, 1842. 

Welsh Neck, S. C, Baptist Association: ^Hnutes, 
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Alexander, Gross : History of the Metliodist Episco- 
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Austin, C. L. : The Life and Times of iVendell Phil- 
lips, 1 90 1. 

Birney, William : James G. Birney ajid His Times, 

Cone, Edward and Cone, Spencer W. : Some Account 
of the Life of Spencer Houghton Cone, New York, 

Garrison, F. J. and Garrison, W. P. : William Lloyd 
Garrison, the story of Jiis life. 4V. 1885. 

Goodell, William: Slavery and Anti-Slavery, 1852. 

Harris, N. D. : Negro Servitude in Illinois, 1904. 

Hart, A. B. : Slavery and Abolition, 1906. 

Matlock, L. C. : The aiiti-slavery struggle and tri- 
umph in the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1881. 

Hatcher, William E. : Life of I. B. Jeter, D.D., 1887. 

Murray, James O. : Francis JJ\iyland, 1891. 

96 The Baptists and Slavery 1840-45. 

Xewman, A. H. : A history of the Baptist Churches 
in the United States, 1902. 

Newman, A. H. : A Century of Baptist Achievement, 

Riley, B. F. : A history of the Baptists of the South- 
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Tiickerman, Bayard: JVilliani Jay and the Constitu- 
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Vedder, H. C. : The Baptists, 1903. 

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^^^ayland, Francis, Jr. and Wayland, Heman L. : A 
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Wood, History of First Baptist Church of Boston. 







Ann Arbor, Mich.